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So, what if you could take a pill and gain wisdom?

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine think it might be possible someday. And they have outlined why in a paper published this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study, done by professors of psychiatry Dilip V. Jeste and Thomas W. Weeks, applies medical science to a subject that has long been the bailiwick of philosophers and religious scholars. The study consisted of an examination of a series of neuroimaging studies. Neuroimaging measures how blood flow in the brain changes based on what people are thinking about.

The researchers found, for example, that when a person considers doing something altruistic, the medial pre-frontal cortex is activated. However, when a person is contemplating another move that requires wisdom, dealing with a conflict, for example, a separate part of the brain is activated.

“Defining wisdom is rather subjective, though there are many similarities in definition across time and cultures,” Jeste said a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at UCSD, said in a news release. “However, our research suggests that there may be a basis in neurobiology.”

With this understanding, researchers may be able to develop drug therapies that help restore basic traits associated with wisdom in people who have had traumatic brain injuries, Jeste said. He stressed, however, that the research is in its very early stages.

DAVID WASHBURN

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