Neuroscientists have discovered which part of your brain you were using when you stopped smoking pot in the house because your parents threatened to take your cell phone away if you did it again. It's called the "forced norm compliance" center, and it's the part of your gray matter that lights up on an MRI when you're threatened with punishment for not obeying a rule or "norm." This means that scientists may be closer to manipulating the part of your brain that makes you obey social norms even when you don't want to.
Apparently, this part of the brain doesn't develop until adulthood, which explains a lot about what happened in high school. But what's disturbing about the study is that the researchers claim that adult criminals may be breaking laws because they have lesions on this "forced norm compliance" center, and that therefore perhaps they should be "treated." Will we see people getting "forced norm tuneups," to make them more likely to obey rules and fear punishment?
Some of the greatest thinkers of the future could be destroyed by such treatment, especially since most brilliant innovations are made despite social disapproval and punishment. Isn't it possible that smart, brave people need to be able to ignore norm compliance? Image via Fempages.
Brain's Social Enforcer Centers Identified [via ScienceDaily]