Cure for EVIL? Scientists Find Brain’s Evil-Inducing Cortex and They’re Working on a Pill
SCIENTISTS have discovered what they believe to be the root of all evil, and it is more ingrained in you than you might like to believe.
Experts have identified a section of the brain in the hypothalamus as the centre of evil which is triggered before an attack.
A team from New York University set out to discover if bad intentions could be spotted before an aggressive or violent act took place.
They noted that this region – which is known as the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus, or VMHvl, and monitors the body’s temperature, hunger and sleep – becomes active pre-attack and could be used to pre-empt violence, stalking, bullying, and even sexual aggression.
Dr Dayu Lin, an assistant professor at the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone and one of the study’s lead investigator, said: “Our study pinpoints the brain circuits essential to the aggressive motivations that build up as animals prepare to attack.”
The team adds that the discovery could lead to drugs being developed which could suppress the violence before an attack has even been carried out.
Additionally, technology could be created to continually monitor the levels of aggression in an individual.
However, this is likely to prove unethical and will raise questions regarding free will.
Nonetheless, Dr Lin added that targeting the VMHvl is “only a distant possibility, even if related ethical and legal issues could be resolved.
“That said, our results argue that the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus should be studied further as part of future efforts seeking to correct behaviours from bullying to sexual predation.”
First author of the study, which was published in Nature Neuroscience, Dr Annegret Falkner said: “In many vertebrate species, certain individuals will seek out opportunities for aggression, even in the absence of threat-provoking cues.
“Although several brain areas have been implicated in the generation of attack in response to social threat, little is known about the neural mechanisms that promote self-initiated or ‘voluntary’ aggression-seeking when no threat is present.
“We found that the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl), an area with a known role in attack, was essential for aggression-seeking.
“Inactivation of the VMHvl reduced aggression-seeking behaviour, whereas stimulation of the VMHvl accelerated moment-to-moment aggression-seeking and intensified future attack.”
The scientists were able to measure aggression in mice by training stronger ones to attack weaker ones and then documented how much they then tried to attack another mouse straight afterwards.
The rodents were fitted with technology which measured nerve activity that enabled the scientists to monitor activity in the hypothalamus.
They found that nerve activity in VMHvl peaked just before an attack.