Want to make somebody lose her belief that harming somebody else is wrong? All you have to do is hold a special magnet up to her head in the right place.

Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation - in which magnets are used to disrupt neural activity in specific parts of the brain - scientists managed to "turn off" people's moral centers. According to a release from PNAS, which published results of the study yesterday:

Liane Young and colleagues applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to disrupt neural activity in an area of the brain known to process information about beliefs and then asked twenty subjects to rate actions on a scale from one (morally forbidden) to seven (morally permissible). The researchers report that study participants judged actions in which a person believes he or she will cause harm to another person-but fails to do so-were more morally permissible during TMS application to the brain region responsible for processing beliefs, compared to when TMS was not applied, or applied to other brain regions.

In other words, if you need an army of minions willing to kill for you, you're going to need a whole lot of magnets.


via PNAS