Gerald Jampolsky once said that through our willingness to help others, we could learn to be happy rather than depressed. One would easily shrug this off, but what if there is some truth to it? What if giving could make you feel better, not just emotionally but also mentally and physically? With that said, Jorge Moll will center as the focus of this context. Jorge Moll is a prominent neurologist, and he has been investigating this concept, specifically how the brain responds to feelings of emotional attachment, tenderness, and values such as altruism and ethics.
Jorge Moll together with his team have conducted various forms of research. Their research has proved that when participants made choices that profited someone else other than them, a part of their brain was activated. They researched with the aid of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This portion of the brain is commonly associated with functions such as response to food or even sex, suggesting that morality and altruism are closely affiliated with parts of the brain that is hard-wired to our responses to pleasure. In simple terms, we give because it makes us feel good.
Jorge Moll also researched on the motivation of soccer fans in a bid to understand the neural premise of prosocial behavior. Soccer fans were asked whether they would prefer to donate to anonymous people who were fans of the same club or to those who were not or even keep the money to themselves. Results showed that fans responded more positively (similar to how they would acknowledge a loved one) toward fans of the same club even though they did not have any emotional attachment towards them. It is said that understanding the neural mechanisms involved in pro-group behavior that could pave the way to addressing clinical ailments such as psychiatric symptoms and antisocial behaviors.
This means that what we may have believed to be the foundation of morality may not be it. However, it also supports what spiritual leaders and philosophers have long suggested; that giving back can truly fulfill us.
About Jorge Moll
Jorge Moll is a medical doctor who graduated with an MD from The Federal University of Rio De Janeiro in 1994. He then finished his medical residency in neurology in 1998 at the same university. Due to his passion, Moll went on to study his Ph.D. in experimental Pathophysiology and graduated in 2004 from Sao Paulo University. He received the Research Fellow accolade between 2004 and 2007 from the National Institute of Health.
At the moment, Jorge Moll is not only the President but also a Senior Researcher at D’Or Institute of Research and Education (IDOR). He is also the Founder and head of the Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience Unit.