Are you charitable? Brain connectivity reveals hidden motives

EVER wondered if the person who helped you had an ulterior motive?

A do-gooder’s true intentions are often hidden, but a new study of brain connectivity has uncovered how to tell if a person’s altruism is selflessly driven or has a selfish motive.


Psychologists and neuroeconomists Grit Hein and Ernst Fehr from the Department of Economics, University of Zurich have found that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain reveal the true motives behind a specific behavioural choice. 


Initially, participants were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner while undertaking altruistic decisions. 

These scenarios ranged from choices driven by an empathy such as the desire to help a person for whom one feels empathy or by a reciprocity motive such as the desire to reciprocate an individual’s previous kindness.