Spending money on public good lights up brain’s pleasure centre

Any money that one spends on greater public good makes one as satisfied as fulfilment of basic needs, according to a research. In other words, giving, even in the form of taxes, lights up the pleasure centre of the brain.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Oregon. The researchers gave participants $100. They had to spend it on a local food bank through mandatory taxation. They could also choose to give more money. Researchers also scanned the brains of participants with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during this activity.

Two evolutionarily ancient regions of the brain lit up when participants saw their money go to charity. The activity in these two regions was more for people who chose to give more money voluntarily. These are the very regions of the human brains that light up when one fulfills basic needs like food.

“The surprising element for us was that in a situation in which your money is simply given to others – where you do not have a free choice – you still get reward-center activity,” said Ulrich Mayr, one of the researchers.

“To economists, the surprising thing about this paper is that we actually see people getting rewards as they give up money,” said lead researcher of the study WT Harbaugh. He added, “Neural firing in this fundamental, primitive part of the brain is larger when your money goes to a non-profit charity to help other people. On top of that, people experience more brain activation when they give voluntarily – even though everything here is anonymous.” He said that the result is not only surprising but also optimistic for him.

You can test this claim right now at Crowdera. Browse through our live projects and donate to the ones you think will perpetrate the greatest public good. Don’t forget to share the results of the experiment with us.