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How the Brain Responds to Fair Treatment


Narrator:    This is Science Today. How does the brain react to getting a fair offer as opposed to an unfair offer? That's the question a team of UCLA researchers asked before using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to find out. Matt Lieberman, an associate professor of psychology, describes their findings.

Lieberman:    This region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens is a region that seems to be commonly recruited and we saw this region significantly more active when people were treated fairly, compared to when they were treated unfairly.

   This brain region is associated with reward processing.

    These are the same regions that you see when people are eating chocolate or if you have someone who's addicted to a particular drug and you show them pictures associated with that drug.

 Lieberman says we tend to think that we really only have an emotional reaction to unfair treatment.

Lieberman:    But it turns out that there is this measurable, emotional response to fair treatment as well.

   For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.