People feel a difference between doing good for themselves and then for others, raising the question of how the brain encodes the behaviors.
Brain cells that fire only when monkeys act unselfishly may provide clues to the neural basis of altruism, according to a new study.
In the study, the cells fire in rhesus monkeys when they gave juice away, but not when they received it. The findings, published Dec. 23 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, may shed light on why many animals (including humans) exhibit kind, unselfish behavior that doesn't directly benefit them.
The new findings provide a "complete picture of the neuronal activity underlying a key aspect of social cognition," Matthew Rushworth, a neuroscientist at Oxford who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email."It is definitely a major achievement."