Neural correlates of hate

New research published this week by scientists at the University College London looks at the neural correlates of hate. Seventeen healthy subjects were recruited through advertisements, with only subjects showing a strong hatred for an individual selected. With one exception, all the subjects testified to hating either an ex-lover or a competitor at work (the one exception was a female who expressed an intense hatred of a politician). Portraits of the hated person, as well as those of neutral faces, were viewed by the subjects while their brains were scanned.

Results showed that there is a unique pattern of activity in the brain in the context of hate. This pattern, while distinct from that obtained in the context of romantic love, nevertheless shares two areas of the brain with the latter (the putamen and the insula). This linkage may explain why love and hate are so closely linked to each other in life.

These results are an extension of previous studies on the brain mechanisms of romantic and maternal love from the same laboratory.


Zeki S, Romaya JP. Neural Corrolates of Hate. PLoS One, 2008; 3(10): e3556.

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