Health Desk--- 16 July, 2017: The feel-good effects of giving begin in the brain. It’s called “giver’s glow,” says Stephen G.
Post, director of the Centre for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University. The response, he says, is triggered by brain chemistry in the mesolimbic pathway, which recognises rewarding stimuli.
This pleasure and reward system evolved some 1 to 2 billion years ago, and at its most basic level, is tied to the joy we receive from eating, sex and social interactions. Viewing the brain with MRI technology during moments of generosity or selfless behaviour has led scientists to uncover that even the thought of giving can engage this ancient response.
But volunteering isn’t the only method of good-for-you giving. Charitable donations trigger the mesolimbic system in much the same way. Even thinking about giving money to a meaningful cause engages this evolutionary reward system, according to research led by Jorge Moll of the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Brazil.