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Did Your Brain Shrink This Winter?

Your brain actually shrinks in winter, and now that spring is coming it's expanding again. However, as you age, your personality may be what prevents it from returning to normal size in the spring. And neuroscientists say they can alter your ethics by manipulating your brain (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this fascinating show!).

Neuroscientists who studied the MRIs and the personalities of a group of people between the ages of 44 and 88 found lower amounts of gray matter in the frontal and medial temporal brain regions of people who tested as being extremely self-involved compared with higher amounts of gray matter in people who paid more attention to the needs of others.

In PhysOrg.com, Tony Fitzpatrick quotes psychologist Denise Head as saying, "This could be interpreted [as showing that] that personality may influence the rate of brain aging."

Neuroscientists have also shown that they can influence people's moral judgments by disrupting a specific brain region. Previous studies have shown that a brain region known as the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), which is located at the brain's surface above and behind the right ear, is highly active when we think about other people's intentions, thoughts and beliefs. When the researchers disrupted activity in the right TPJ by inducing a current in the brain using a magnetic field applied to the scalp, they found that the subjects' ability to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people's intentions (for example, a failed murder attempt) was impaired.

Researcher Liane Young says, "You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior. To be able to apply (a magnetic field) to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing."

To learn more, click here and here.

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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