Jorge Moll’s Neuroscience Morality and the New Way to Altruism

Saint Francis of Assisi once said that it is only through giving that we receive a fact that did not seem scientifically correct at the time until now. Two neuroscientists Jordan Grafman and Jorge Moll of the National Institutes of Health were investigating brain activity of volunteers who were asked to respond to whether they would either keep a considerable sum of cash to themselves or donate to a charity.


What amazed them was that, when the respondents put other people interests ahead of theirs, that act of generosity stimulated a basic part of their brain stimulated by sex or food. They concluded that altruism does not depend on the better moral reasoning for a person to suppress their selfish urges, rather it is hard-wired to the brain as a pleasurable faculty.


Jorge Moll and Grafman have carried more research in the area using psychological experiments and brain imaging, and their most recent findings show that morality is hard-wired in the brain. With the show that morality has biological roots, researchers claim then its foundation is empathy.


This has raised some conflict with theologians and philosophers who view that if morality is tied to brain chemistry rather than free will, it will relegate the need for personal responsibility. They consider that morality cannot be viewed as an evolutionary survival tool.


He graduated in 1994 from the Federal University, Rio de Janeiro and later did his residency in Neurology there in 1997. Jorge Moll is a lead neuroscientist and President of D’Or Institute of Research and Education (IDOR) in Rio de Janeiro. He undertook his doctorate in Experimental Pathophysiology at the University of Sao Paulo’s Faculty of Medicine and later a post-doctorate research at the National Institute of Health.


His endeavors in research and as professional have led to many organizations honoring him with awards, for example, Stanford University’s Stanford Neuroscience Institute’s Visiting Scholar Awards which he won in 2015, and Research Fellow NIH award (2004-2007). Jorge Moll previous positions include a member of the governor’s board at the Neuroethics Society and membership at Brazilian Academy of Sciences. He studied Cognitive Neuroscience at Bethesda USA.

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