Brain hates dirty money

Money cannot buy happiness. Sure, but only if it is not made the right way! Moral stories you heard from your granny now have scientific legs thanks to the work of a group of researchers at the University College London. Their report says that ill-gotten gains elicit a much weaker response in the brain’s reward system than money made scrupulously. In simpler words, the brain winces at the thought of exploiting others for making money--the brains of most of us any way. The findings explain why most people cringe at the thought of exploiting others for financial gains.

Project lead Molly Crockett said: “Our results suggest the money just isn’t as appealing, if it means hurting others” Unfortunately, however, there are exceptions: The experiment revealed a greedy fringe that does not care how the moolah comes so long as it does. “These outliers,” the report said “found it equally, if not more, gratifying to profit at the expense of an anonymous partner.”

In a vast majority, however, it seems that a brain region, called the lateral prefrontal cortex, factors guilt into decision-making and downgrades the value of reward when it conflicts with moral beliefs associated with exploiting others.

What is the neuroscience behind empathy? When do children develop it? And can it be taught?

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