Observing Costly Altruism in a Virtual Environment

From VR Medicine News–A new study sought to determine neuroanatomical correlates of costly altruism using VR technology. Participants were immersed in a virtual environment where another individual was in danger. Those participants who risked their own lives to save the endangered virtual individuals were found to have a larger right anterior insula than those who did not. The same participants were also found to have a higher level of empathetic concern toward the endangered virtual persons. “These findings add to the growing literature showing the role of caring motivation in promoting altruism and prosociality and its neural correlates in the right anterior insula,” the authors conclude.

Patil I, Zanon M, Novembre G, Zangrando N, Chittaro L, Silani G. Neuroanatomical basis of concern-based altruism in virtual environment. Neuropsychologia. 2017;1-10.