Exploring How Our Brains Shape Our Values

In this article excerpt, editors of " The Neurobiology of Values" introduce a new collection of articles that explores the intricate relationship between our brains and social behavior, aiming to integrate prosocial values into neurology research and practice. The original article, published in Frontiers, is available to view here.

A shot of a grandmother and her grandson embracing while sitting on the sofa, both smiling broadly.

In recent years, the study of neurology and its implications for health equity has undergone significant development and progress. As our understanding of the brain continues to evolve, there's a growing desire to better understand the biology of social behavior and to integrate prosocial values into neurology research and practice. As editors, our aim is to explore fundamental questions: What do we mean by "values," and how do they impact the brain?  The resulting collection of articles, titled "The Neurobiology of Values," takes a profound dive into how our brains shape and influence our values. This editorial aims to outline the main goals of the research in the collection, summarizing important discoveries and putting them into a broader perspective.

Social Engagement and Brain Health

In their perspective, “One step beyond the lab and clinic: “walking the dementia conversation,” Zegarra-Valdivia et al. take a bold step beyond the lab and clinic bringing together researchers, caregivers, and patients to "walk the talk" for dementia. This article not only shifts the focus from pathology to conversation but also emphasizes the importance of community engagement and real-world discussions in shaping our understanding of brain health and values.

Fitri et al. highlight the profound impact of empathy as a crucial skill in disrupting disparities in global brain health. This research advocates for a collective approach to address global mental health challenges, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries.

Ibanez et al. pose a compelling question in "Can prosocial values improve brain health?" Here, the focus shifts to the symbiotic relationship between prosocial values and the well-being of the brain, holding promises for advancing preventative and intervention strategies.

Berendzen's exploration of social attachment as a window into the neural basis of prosocial values offers valuable insights into the emotional underpinnings of our social behaviors. This research contributes to the growing body of knowledge surrounding empathy, cooperation, and the neural substrates that facilitate prosocial behavior.

Cultural Perspectives on Brain Health

Stirland et al. invite us to consider the cultural basis of authenticity and leadership in brain health, prompting reflections on how cultural nuances influence cognitive well-being. The article further examines how societal values, when aligned with principles of respect and equity, contribute to overall cognitive health.

Hill-Jarrett invites us to explore "The Black radical imagination: a space of hope and possible futures," encouraging a departure from conventional perspectives. The cultural and social dimensions explored in this article inspire a reevaluation of the intersections between culture, identity, and brain health, challenging us to recognize the rich diversity of experiences that shape our values

Person-Centered Approaches in Brain Health

Merrilees et al. shift attitudes toward aging, dementia, and caregiving by using personal narrative to promote person-centered values. Through the integration of personal stories, this research transcends traditional academic boundaries, providing a humanistic perspective on brain health and values.

Kaczmarska adds a unique rhythm to the collection. Through the lens of dance, this research perspective not only offers insights into potential therapeutic avenues for those with dementia but also underscores the profound connection between embodiment and the brain. It highlights the significance of physical experiences in shaping our cognitive landscapes and the potential therapeutic benefits of embodied practices in promoting brain health and well-being.

This article excerpt is republished with permission from Frontiers, an open access publisher. See the full article | View Frontiers Research Topic