APR 08, 2015 02:16 PM PDT

'Moral' Brain May Get Switched Off in Killers

WRITTEN BY: Will Hector
A new study has thrown light on how people can become killers in certain situations, showing how brain activity varies according to whether or not killing is seen as justified.

The study, led by Monash researcher Dr. Pascal Molenberghs, School of Psychological Sciences, is published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Participants in the study played video games in which they imagined themselves to be shooting innocent civilians (unjustified violence) or enemy soldiers (justified violence). Their brain activity was recorded via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they played.

Dr. Molenberghs said the results provided important insights into how people in certain situations, such as war, are able to commit extreme violence against others.

"When participants imagined themselves shooting civilians compared to soldiers, greater activation was found in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), an important brain area involved in making moral decisions," Dr. Molenberghs said.

"The more guilt participants felt about shooting civilians, the greater the response in the lateral OFC. When shooting enemy soldiers, no activation was seen in lateral OFC."

The results show that the neural mechanisms that are typically implicated with harming others become less active when the violence against a particular group is seen as justified.

"The findings show that when a person is responsible for what they see as justified or unjustified violence, they will have different feelings of guilt associated with that -- for the first time we can see how this guilt relates to specific brain activation," Dr Molenberghs said.

The researchers hope to further investigate how people become desensitized to violence and how personality and group membership of both perpetrator and victim influence these processes.

(Source: Monash University; Science Daily)
About the Author
  • Will Hector practices psychotherapy at Heart in Balance Counseling Center in Oakland, California. He has substantial training in Attachment Theory, Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Psycho-Physical Therapy, and Formative Psychology. To learn more about his practice, click here: http://www.heartinbalancetherapy.com/will-hector.html
You May Also Like
SEP 15, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 15, 2019
Caffeine Users are More Sensitive to the Smell of Coffee
Are you a coffee addict? Your sense of smell may be fine-tuned to the caffeinated beverage’s aroma. New research has provided new evidence that frequ...
SEP 15, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 15, 2019
Can We Inherit PTSD from Our Parents?
We often think of the negative byproduct of trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as a personal experience. But research now suggests that PTSD ma...
SEP 15, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
SEP 15, 2019
Understanding the Spread of Parkinson's from the Gut to the Brain
Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder impacting the brain, can begin in the gut....
SEP 15, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
SEP 15, 2019
Exosomes are Involved in Brain Development
Researchers have learned more about the role of exosomes in neurodevelopment....
SEP 15, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 15, 2019
Motor Neurone Disease is 52% Genetic
In a new study, researchers at Trinity College Dublin have found 1 in every 347 men and 1 in every 436 women are likely to develop motor neurone disease (M...
SEP 15, 2019
Drug Discovery
SEP 15, 2019
Can FDA Approved Ketamine Drug Spravato Really Treat Depression?
President Trump is allegedly in support of a new drug to combat depression. He even urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase it and “get ...
Loading Comments...