Brother can you spare a dime?

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Anyone here from Bethesda? Any Bethesdans in the house? Did any of you hear what's been going on down at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in your town?

I thought not.

Apparently researchers there recently finished a study of the brain activity of 19 men and women. Each participant was given $128 and asked to make choices about whether to keep it for themselves or give it to one of 64 different charities, anonymously.

The choices were:

1) not to donate at all and receive a small monetary reward
2) to designate a gift at no cost to themselves
3) to give some of their money to charity
4) to oppose the cause at no cost to themselves
5) or to donate to oppose the charitable group's work

Guess what? All the participants gave at least some of the money away, donating $21 to $80 a piece. Donating, even when it didn't cost them their own money, activated two areas of participants' brains: the mesolimbic network, which is thought to play a role in reinforcing life-supporting behaviors such as eating and sexual activity, and the subgenual area, which helps people form social attachments to others.

The study tried to prove why giving to charities makes us feel good. If you want a copy of the entire study, feel free to e-mail Dr. Moll at mollj@ninds.nih.gov. And if you do, maybe you could ask him why they went with the numbers 64 and 128, which, as you probably know, are also two in the long series of computer/memory cards which start around 8 and keep doubling upward. Anyone know if this is formed from a logarithm in base 2? Or what the proper name for that number series is? Or what, exactly, the connection is? Just curious"¦ and we know how smart our readers are.

January 3, 2007 - 3:55am
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