As it turns out, Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have figured out that they can change people's moral judgments by placing a magnetic field up to a specific brain region. When the subjects in the study were put under the influence of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), their reasoning was based on knowing the outcome of the event regardless of the possible harm in getting there.
The BBC reports:
[MIT] lead researcher Dr Liane Young said: "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."
The key area of the brain is a knot of nerve cells known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ).
The RTPJ region of the brain is active when a person is making a moral decision. So when the magnetic field was applied to a specific brain region, normal cell activity was temporarily disturbed — causing people to be more forgiving when presented with a situation about a bad moral judgment. One of the dilemmas presented involved a friend unknowingly putting toxic sugar into her friend's coffee.
And it didn't matter if the magnetic field was applied for 25 minutes straight or in short periods. As long as magnetic pulses were applied, the scientists noticed the change in people's moral compass.
Updated: "Magnet" was changed to "magnetic field" to avoid confusion.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com