SEP 20, 2018 11:31 PM PDT

Macaques Explain The Neuroscience of Envy

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Image via Medical Xpress

Believe it or not, there are neurological underpinnings that determine how we perceive our environment and often our perception of others. A publication in the journal Nature Neuroscience describes how researchers performed scans of the brains of macaques in situations where their partners were rewarded. The study brought light on the neuroscience behind envy.

In their work, the scientists from the Department of System Neuroscience at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, showed a specific region of the brain that is associated with a decrease in the amount that macaques “appreciate receiving a reward themselves depending on whether their partner has received one”.

The study consisted of placing pairs of macaques opposing each other and repeatedly providing them with sips of water in association with visual and audio stimulations which conditions them to associate one with the other. Researchers measured the total licking of the lips as the indication to how much they valued their own rewards and including when their partner was rewarded. Additionally, the behavioral analysis was performed on the macaque's gaze to confirm that the provision of a reward to one macaque was noted the partner. Lastly, the activity of parts of the brain commonly associated with reward processing was also measured. The results show that the macaques valued their own rewards less when their partner macaque was rewarded, even if their own rewards were left unchanged. This revealed the subjective valuation of one's own rewards depending on the social setting. The study suggests the emergence of “the subjective valuation of one's own rewards depending on the social setting”.

"We confirmed the behavioral and neurological findings by repeating the experiment when a paired macaque was present but did not receive sips of water as a reward, and when water was provided into a bucket, rather than a fellow macaque," corresponding author Masaki Isoda says. "In these cases, signs of envy were not exhibited."

In addition, the team also studied parts of the brain that seem to be involved in the observed "envy" and the pathways active between them. "By measuring the timings at which the different regions were activated in the envy-related scenario, the pathway was shown to involve the flow of information from the medial prefrontal cortex to the midbrain,” explains lead author, Atsushi Noritake.

Due to the similarity between macaques and humans, the study may be extrapolated to humans, with multiple implications from behavioral diseases to financial systems.

Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
APR 07, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 07, 2020
One Gene Can Accelerate or Slow ALS Progression
Mutations in a single gene had different biological impacts depending on the context.
APR 24, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 24, 2020
Teenage Cannabis Use May Prime the Brain to Enjoy Cocaine
New research has found that teenage cannabis use may make the brain more susceptible to the effects of cocaine. "It ...
APR 30, 2020
APR 30, 2020
Nighttime Blood Pressure Changes Linked to Cerebrovascular Disease and Impaired Cognition
When most people go to sleep, their blood pressure decreases, or dips, compared to daytime values. However, for some, a ...
MAY 03, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 03, 2020
How One Protein is Linked to Three Different Brain Disorders
The accumulation of aberrant, misfolded proteins is a known feature of several different kinds of brain diseases.
MAY 06, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAY 06, 2020
Does Cannabis Damage Focus and Memory in Teenagers?
As cannabis products become more mainstream, increasing numbers of people from every age bracket are using them. Researc ...
JUN 30, 2020
Health & Medicine
JUN 30, 2020
UK Loosens Regulation on Prescription CBD for Epilepsy
Epidyolex-the epilepsy drug that contains the non-psychoactive cannabis chemical cannabidiol, or CBD-has been changed fr ...
Loading Comments...