Brain Scans Show Vegetarians and Vegans Are More Empathic than Omnivores

I love nuero-science. It explains so much of human behavior.

It all comes down to the brains. Empathy is a brain function that apparently not everyone has.

A sociopath does not have empathy for anything–that part of his brain does not function properly nor is it the same shape as someone who is an empath. To learn more about sociopaths read my other blog, http://www.ivonnemontijo.wordpress.com

sociopath brain

I found this article floating around in cyber space. For those of you who love facts and data there is a link at the bottum to the complete study.

 

Brain Scans Show Vegetarians and Vegans Are More Empathic than Omnivores

They appear to have more of an empathetic response to suffering

Published on July 12, 2012 by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. in Animal Emotions

 

brain scans

Every now and again we discover that some of our beliefs are supported by scientific research.Recent research using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) shows that “vegetarians and vegans appear to have more of an empathetic response to both human and animal suffering … FMRI brain scans showed that the areas of the brain associated with empathy (such as the anterior cingulate cortex and the left inferior frontal gyrus in this study) were more activated in vegetarians and vegans compared to omnivores when all three groups were shown pictures of human or animal suffering. Written questionnaires on empathy, in both this and other studies, seem to confirm higher empathy levels in vegetarians and vegans (Preyo and Arkiwawa, 2008; Filippi et al 2010).” (I could not find the reference to Preyo and Arkiwawa, 2008 but the entire essay by Filippi et al., 2010 ishere.)

 

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010847

Abstract

Empathy and affective appraisals for conspecifics are among the hallmarks of social interaction. Using functional MRI, we hypothesized that vegetarians and vegans, who made their feeding choice for ethical reasons, might show brain responses to conditions of suffering involving humans or animals different from omnivores. We recruited 20 omnivore subjects, 19 vegetarians, and 21 vegans. The groups were matched for sex and age. Brain activation was investigated using fMRI and an event-related design during observation of negative affective pictures of human beings and animals (showing mutilations, murdered people, human/animal threat, tortures, wounds, etc.). Participants saw negative-valence scenes related to humans and animals, alternating with natural landscapes. During human negative valence scenes, compared with omnivores, vegetarians and vegans had an increased recruitment of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). More critically, during animal negative valence scenes, they had decreased amygdala activation and increased activation of the lingual gyri, the left cuneus, the posterior cingulate cortex and several areas mainly located in the frontal lobes, including the ACC, the IFG and the middle frontal gyrus. Nonetheless, also substantial differences between vegetarians and vegans have been found responding to negative scenes. Vegetarians showed a selective recruitment of the right inferior parietal lobule during human negative scenes, and a prevailing activation of the ACC during animal negative scenes. Conversely, during animal negative scenes an increased activation of the inferior prefrontal cortex was observed in vegans. These results suggest that empathy toward non conspecifics has different neural representation among individuals with different feeding habits, perhaps reflecting different motivational factors and beliefs.

 

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