A recent study, led by neurologist Jorge Moll, has found that there’s a real psychological need being met in how we interact with groups. For instance, sports fans become intensely invested in how their favorite teams perform, but Moll’s research suggests that’s more than just fanaticism. Our mental health depends on the connections we make to groups, suggests the study.
The research was conducted at D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR), where Dr. Moll acts as the head of the organization and the lead researcher in the study. Jorge says the groups we form in our culture, regardless of what those groups are intended to celebrate, are essential to human survival. That’s why the study of how this phenomenon affects the mind is so important.
The study looked at how the camaraderie among soccer fans affected the neurological functioning of the brain. To examine this, the researchers looked at how acts of altruism affected brain patterns. The study showed that, when gifting money to their own fans, the soccer players extended greater effort to make the donations as opposed to making less of an effort in gifting money to non-fans. Similarly, the greatest effort was exhibited in obtaining the money to keep for themselves.
In examining how these reactions affected various parts of the brain, researchers concluded that the relationship between athletes and fans is similar to the way we interact with family members. That same connection is established through a sense of belonging, showing that being included in a group stimulates positive emotions (LinkedIn). Those conducting the study have hopes that these findings can lead to better treatments for antisocial behavioral problems and those with aggressive tendencies.
In 1994, Jorge Moll graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and remained at the institution to do his residency in neurology. After completing his residency in 1998, Dr. Moll attended São Paulo University, where he earned his PhD in experimental pathophysiology. Jorge later founded both the D’Or Institute of Research and Education (IDOR), which is located in Rio de Janeiro, and the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit (CBNU).
From 2004 through 2007, Jorge Moll served as a research fellow with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and was also a visiting research scholar at Stanford University for two months, starting in December 2016. In March of last year, Dr. Jorge Moll joined VHM Ventures as a partner and still remains involved with that organization. He continues to lead D’Or Institute of Research and Education as that organization’s president.