Posted on November 20, 2008

Brain Scans of People Full of Hate Show Unique Hate Signature

Randall Parker, Future Pundit, October 29, 2008

Coming from Professor Semir Zeki and John Romaya of the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at the University College London, a new research paper in Plos One on how hatred activates and deactivates areas of the brain shows hate creates a unique pattern of brain activates which includes some overlap with brain areas activated by love.

In this work, we address an important but unexplored topic, namely the neural correlates of hate. {snip} The study thus shows that there is a unique pattern of activity in the brain in the context of hate. {snip}

Hatred does not activate the amygdala which is activated by fear.

It is important to note that the pattern revealed is distinct from that of other, closely related, emotions such as fear, anger, aggression and danger, even though it shares common areas with these other sentiments. {snip} It would thus seem that, though these sentiments may constitute part of the behaviour that results from hatred, the neural pathways for hate are distinct.

Parts of the brain involved in motor function get activated—perhaps so one can move in and attack the object of one’s hate?


{snip} While love shuts down areas of the brain associated with judgment and reasoning by contrast those consumed with hate have very active reasoning facilities. It takes logic to figure out how to attack your enemy. So that makes sense. Only those in love thing they can afford to let their guard down, become zombies, and feel bliss around the object of their affection.

“A marked difference in the cortical pattern produced by these two sentiments of love {snip} But whereas in romantic love, the lover is often less critical and judgmental regarding the loved person, it is more likely that in the context of hate the hater may want to exercise judgment in calculating moves to harm, injure or otherwise extract revenge.

In countries where suspected criminals have no right to privacy or right to keep silent brain scans could be used to determine whether a suspected killer hated his victim and by how much.

“Interestingly, the activity in some of these structures in response to viewing a hated face is proportional in strength to the declared intensity of hate, thus allowing the subjective state of hate to be objectively quantified. This finding may have legal implications in criminal cases, for example.”

One could imagine a police state in which opponents of the regime get tested with brain scans and pictures of dictators to identify enemies of the state. With more time it will become possible for governments to turn hatred into love. Then all enemies of the state will get turned into supporters of it. Of course, individuals will try to do this on a smaller scale as well.


[Editor’s Note: The complete article “Neural Correlates of Hate,” by Semir Zeki and John Paul Romaya, (with figures and references) can be read on-line or downloaded as a PDF here.]