Monday, April 6, 2009

Scientists 'discover' source of wisdom in the human brain

Scientists have discovered the source of wisdom in the human brain, it was revealed today. (No superlatives here... lol)
Experts have pinpointed the part of the brain that guides people when they are battling with difficult moral dilemmas, according to a study.
Highly-sophisticated brain scans (are you dazzled yet?) show that the response is linked to certain areas usually associated with primitive emotions of sex, fear and anger.
The findings, revealed by the Observer, are to be published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
They are a significant departure into an area of expertise that has long been regarded as one of religion and philosophy.
Study author Dilip Jeste, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California in San Diego, said: 'Our research suggests there may be a basis in neurobiology for wisdom’s most universal traits.'
He and colleague Thomas Meeks discovered that a person weighing up an issue that just called for an altruistic response used the medial prefrontal cortext of the brain.
This is linked to intelligence and learning.
But when someone is battling with a moral dilemma, other areas of the brain are used such as the parts linked to rational thought and primitive emotions.
Mr Meeks said: 'Several brain regions appear to be involved in different components of wisdom. It seems to involve a balance between more primitive brain regions, like the limbic system, and the newest ones, such as the prefrontal cortex.'
This type of research has only become possible in recent years due to technological advances in brain scanning, including functional magnetic resonance imaging.
This means experts can examine which parts of the brain that are used when people consider various tasks.
Such research has been made possible by the increasing sophistication of brain scanning techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
These allow researchers to see which parts of the brain become active when people undertake mental tasks.
Professor Jeste admitted the possibility that wisdom and free will are based on the make-up of someone's brain rather than metaphysics is unsettling.
But he said: 'Knowledge of the underlying mechanisms in the brain could potentially lead to developing interventions for enhancing wisdom.' (or manipulating it)

Daily Mail link

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