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First study to watch brain patterns when forgiving

In the first study ever to examine how the brain functions when making judgments about forgivability and empathy, researcher Tom Farrow, B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D., found that different regions of the brain are activated when a person makes judgments about forgiving.

The findings will be presented at the Scientific Conference on Forgiveness along with studies from over 40 of the top scientists in the world who study forgiveness. The conference is in Atlanta October 24-25. To register, log on to the Press Room at: http://www.forgiving.org/campaign/clippings.asp

This study, conducted in the UK, shows that forgiveness is a complex process that occurs in the brain. Different parts of the brain are utilized when a person makes moral judgments, empathizes with someone and eventually makes judgments about how forgivable the person and/or action may be. Farrow's study is the first ever to examine how the brain functions when making judgments about forgivability and empathy. Through MRI scanning of a healthy control group, the study found that judgments about forgivability and empathy produced a distinct pattern of brain activity.

Following therapy, the brain activity of two separate groups of patients, one with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the other with Schizophrenia, appeared to normalize and return to the patterns seen in the healthy control group. These changes were noted in the portion of the brain involved in feeling empathy and making moral judgments. Changes were not as pronounced in the regions of the brain that controls forgivability judgments.

Farrow is a Lecturer in Adult Psychiatry (Neuroimaging), Sheffield Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory (SCANLab), Sheffield University, UK. He is also a Visiting Royal Society Overseas Research Fellow, Brain DynamicsCentre,Westmead Hospital and Honorary Lecturer, Department of Psychological Medicine, University o
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Contact: Vicki Robb
vicki@jvrobb.com
703-329-3356
John Templeton Foundation
8-Oct-2003


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