Why the Brain Struggles To Share

Why the Brain Struggles To Share ...

The brain is functioning differently depending on whether a subject is dealing with common (shared) or private natural resources, according to HSE University research. The ventral striatumthe so-called pleasure centre plays a significant role in this process. The research has been published bySocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Commercial fish stocks have dropped by 95 percent in some parts of the ocean, yet private fish farms are not being depleted. Why is it that people may without a second thought but are concerned about their private property? Researchers from the HSE University and the University of Basel have examined the brain mechanisms behind this paradoxical disregard for the public interest.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the brains of 50 participants who were invited to play an economic game. The number of fish in the lake was influenced by the size of the nets used by the player, allowing participants to sell the fish they caught in exchange for a real reward. Both the players had also to account for the natural migration of fish (in the private pond) and the number of other fish found in the public area.

The findings indicate that a dramatic decrease in the number of fish in the lake influenced the activity of the ventral striatum, an area of the brain known as the brains pleasure centre, due to its high content of neurotransmitter dopamine.

Therefore, the reduction of a natural resource is an unfavorable event for the brain, and the activity of the pleasure center is severely suppressed. However, a more thorough analysis revealed that our brains pleasure centre complied differently to reductions in private and public resources. When participants fished in their own lake, their neuronal activity in the pleasure centre was more likely to monitor the optimal number of fish, thus conserving the fish population. Conversely, when participants fished in a public pond, they quickly

As a result of this effort, a brain''s behavior differs from the one''s income and the one''s envy. In 1968, an American ecologist ruled out that cattle grazed on public land as often as possible, adding his or her own income. Unfortunately, even today, people continue to harm such shared natural resources. It is important to understand the subtle features that can be used to maintain them.

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