Altruism, and particularly costly altruism toward strangers, such as altruistic kidney donation, represents a puzzling phenomenon for many fields of science, including evolutionary biology, psychology, and economics. How can such behavior be explained?

Costly altruism, the kind that you see expressed by people who willingly agree or seek to donate their kidneys, is a puzzling phenomenon for many scientists. Most of these people would tell you that they do it out of love, sympathy or a higher purpose.
Neuroscientists, however, are more interested in finding whether there are any neural mechanisms associated with altruism or any kind of behavior, for that matter. 
Abigail Marsh,  an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University and one of the country’s leading researchers into altruism, performed MRI scans on nearly 20 people who had donated their kidneys and found that a particular brain region associated with processing emotions lit up more than in most people.
This suggests that some people may be hardwired on a neural level to be kind to others and help out without expecting anything in return.


The price of goodness

Marsh herself was introduced first hand to the power of costly altruism. When she was 20, a freak accident caused her to end up stalled in the fast lane facing oncoming traffic. A man dodged the traffic, helped her out of harm’s way, started her car, then left before she even had the chance to ask for his name. She’s been fascinated by this sort of behavior since.

People who are most stressed after work get the least out of watching TV and playing video games to relax, a recent study finds.


In fact, those with the highest levels of stress also experience greater shame and feelings of failure about using TV and video games to wind down.

Ironically, it is people who are the most exhausted after work who have the most to gain from flopping down in front of the box.


Research has consistently found that relatively mindless activities, like consuming media, can help people restore their mental energies, but for stressed out people this does not seem to be the case.

The findings come from surveys of around 500 people in Switzerland and Germany.

They were asked how much work they had done the previous day, how tired they felt and how much video-gaming or TV they’d indulged in.

Many management handbooks and websites recommend the so-called ‘bad news sandwich’ strategy.

News-givers should hand out some good news first, then the bad, then finish off with the good.

According to recent psychological research, published in the journalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin, though, this is a selfish strategy:

“Our findings suggest that the primary beneficiary of the bad news sandwich is news-givers, not news-recipients.

Although recipients may be pleased to end on a high note, they are unlikely to enjoy anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop during the initial good news.”

Nutritional disparities between America’s rich and poor are growing, despite efforts to provide higher-quality food to people who most need it. So says a large study just released from the Harvard School of Public Health that examined eating habits of 29,124 Americans over the past decade. Diet quality has improved among people of high socioeconomic status but deteriorated among those at the other end of the spectrum. The gap between the two groups doubled between 2000 and 2010. That will be costly for everyone.



It’s the first period in human history when the rich are thing, and the poor are fat – and this has a lot to do with something called the food gap.


The food gap is basically what you’d expect from it (much like the wealth gap): there’s a huge difference between what rich people and poor people eat.
A new study has shown that between 2000 and 2010, the dietary habits of rich people have significantly improved, while for the ones at the other end of the spectrum, the situation is much worse. The gap between the two groups has doubled in just a decade!



Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.

The study tested two groups of sixth-grade students at how well they could judge facial emotions in pictures and videos.

One group then went off to the Pali institute — a nature and science camp near Los Angeles — for five days.

At the camp, the children weren’t allowed to use any electronic devices, while the other group went about their normal, everyday lives.

It was quite a change for those children who attended the Pali Institute as the usual amount of time they spent texting, watching TV and playing video games was 4.5 hours per day — and that was on a typical school day.