Jorge Moll Opens the Mind’s of Soccer Fans

Neuroscientist Jorge Moll is President and Senior Researcher at the D’Or Institute of Research and Education. He attended the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where in 1994, he graduated in Medicine. At the same university in 1998, he completed medical residence in Neurology. At São Paulo University in 2004, he received his doctorate in Experimental Pathophysiology. He is also the Head of the Neuroinformatics Workgroup and the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit. He has been elected as an affiliate member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and a governors board member of the International Neuroethics Society.

His institute has done research on the neurology of soccer fans. On November 23rd, their study was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports Journal. They specifically wanted to know more about which parts of the brain are activated when a fan is given the choice of donating money to fellow fans, other team’s fans, or themselves. The researchers considered group belongingness to be very important for hominid evolution. Past studies have shown that humans are more likely to help those in their own group, as opposed to those outside of it. Jorge Moll was the senior author, and he wrote that cultural group attachment is a uniquely human phenomenon that has been important for our survival. (terra)

The functioning Magnetic Resonance scanner was used on 27 Brazilian soccer fans. The lead author of the study was Dr. Tiago Bortolini, who was also a member of the Institute. The soccer fans squeezed a handgrip pressure device that recorded how much effort they used. The most effort was used for keeping the money, while giving it to fans of the same team came second. Of course, other team’s fans came last. The medical orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain important for evaluating choices, increased in activity under all conditions. The study showed that when money was going to a fan of the same team, there was a connection between the orbitofrontal cortex and the subgenual cingulate cortex. They concluded that soccer fans respond to fellow fans similarly to how they respond to loved family members.