7Our Brains Don't Want Us to Be Great at Doing Good, But We Can Outsmart Them

What Charity Looks Like on the Inside

In 2006, researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, had some questions about what it really means to do good. They wanted to know what things look like in the brain of a person who is donating to charity. What mental processes are going on when we decide to give money to a cause we support?

To find out, they teamed up with researchers at the University of Genoa Medical School in Italy as well as researchers at two institutes in Brazil to carry out an experiment. Participants were recruited, and on the day of the experiment each person was inserted into an fMRI machine to undergo the study.

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