Researchers Identify Brain Regions Activated In Anger and Revenge

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The researchers from Université de Genève developed an economic game to identify the regions activated in suppression of revenge and anger.

A feeling of anger often leads to the desire for revenge. However, what occurs at the cerebral level when anger or revenge is experienced is lesser known. Now, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, developed an economic game to identify the regions activated in suppression of revenge and anger. The findings were reported in Scientific Reports on July 12, 2018. The research was conducted on 25 people that played the Inequality Game. The economic game was created by Olga Klimecki-Lenz and triggers a feeling of injustice leading to anger in the participants. The game later offered the participants with an opportunity to take revenge.

The participants are installed in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to allow measurement of brain activity in there phases of the game. The photographs of the other two players and the messages and financial transactions that the participant receives and issues is then confronted. The participant is in control in the first phase and chooses which profits he distributes to which participants. The researchers noticed that on average the participants in the phase are fair towards both other players. The second phase of provocation deals with the participant passively receiving the decisions of the other two players. Moreover the provocations and injustice of the unfair player seemed to induce a feeling of anger in the participant who rates it on a scale from 0 to 10. The participant is again in control in the third phase of the game and can choose whether to take revenge or not. The experiment concluded that although the participants were generous to the fair player, they took revenge for the injustices committed by the unfair player. The second phase or the provocation phase played was important in localizing the feeling of anger in the brain and revealed that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is activated in this case. Moreover, the feeling of revenge was reduced when activities in the DLPFC increased.

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