Scientists locate brain's 'censor'

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Fri Nov 02 2001 - 08:52:20 MST

Yet another indication of the biological basis of morality, in further support
of Dawkins and objective morality.

Neural Correlates of Conscious Self-Regulation of Emotion
THE seat of temperance has been located by experiments on men watching X-rated
films, revealing a region in the front of the brain that can control our most
primitive sexual urges.

Researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada discovered the areas of
the brain that play this inhibitory role by asking a dozen men to watch clips
of erotic movies and films that were sexually neutral.

In the Journal of Neuroscience, Mario Beauregard, Johanne Levesque and Pierre
Bourgouin report that when the men gave free rein to sexual arousal there was
activation of a brain centre called the limbic system, or "emotional brain".

The men were then asked to become "detached observers" and do whatever it took
to avoid arousal as their brains were scanned by a technique called magnetic
resonance imaging. The scanner showed that parts of the brain called the
prefrontal cortex were activated as the men showed restraint.

The prefrontal lobe is the most recent part of the nervous system to develop
in evolution. Chimpanzees have one, but it is no more than 25 per cent the
size of the organ in humans.

Thus temperance, the control of sexual excitation, is controlled by an organ
that is unique to primates and highly developed in humans.

The ability to "turn off" an emotion has wider implications, being central to
warding off disorders such as depression and anxiety, which are marked by
patients' inability to turn their thoughts from sadness and worry.

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Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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