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Found: Altruism Brain Cells

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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."


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From the article;

"Why animals act unselfishly has been a longstanding mystery. Yet they routinely do: Monkeys will go without food rather than shock compatriots, and mice will also starve rather than hurt friends."

Hmm, when non-human animals exhibit altruistic behavior, it's a mystery. When humans do it, it's because of our special human nature.

No matter what evidence science provides, humans must maintain a special, unique moral status, otherwise our entire legal system and our exalted status of "personhood" would come crashing down.

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