Article

Individual differences in moral judgment competence influence neural correlates of socio-normative judgments

Department of Neurology, Neuroscience Research Center, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Mitte, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 7.37). 04/2008; 3(1):33-46. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsm037
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

To investigate how individual differences in moral judgment competence are reflected in the human brain, we used event-related
functional magnetic resonance imaging, while 23 participants made either socio-normative or grammatical judgments. Participants
with lower moral judgment competence recruited the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the left posterior superior temporal
sulcus more than participants with greater competence in this domain when identifying social norm violations. Moreover, moral
judgment competence scores were inversely correlated with activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during
socio-normative relative to grammatical judgments. Greater activity in right DLPFC in participants with lower moral judgment
competence indicates increased recruitment of rule-based knowledge and its controlled application during socio-normative judgments.
These data support current models of the neurocognition of morality according to which both emotional and cognitive components
play an important role.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Arno Villringer
  • Source
    • "Many of the cognitive processes involved in moral behavior are located in the frontal regions of the brain (Fumagalli and Priori, 2012). For example the prefrontal context has particular salience in adhering to social norms (Moll et al., 2002), and it is generally more activated in those who are applying moral principles to moral dilemmas (Prehn et al., 2007). Frontal involvement is also implicated when determining moral value of actions (Shenhav and Greene, 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Behavioral changes in dementia, especially behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), may result in alterations in moral reasoning. Investigators have not clarified whether these alterations reflect differential impairment of care-based vs. rule-based moral behavior. This study investigated 18 bvFTD patients, 22 early onset Alzheimer's disease (eAD) patients, and 20 healthy age-matched controls on care-based and rule-based items from the Moral Behavioral Inventory and the Social Norms Questionnaire, neuropsychological measures, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) regions of interest. There were significant group differences with the bvFTD patients rating care-based morality transgressions less severely than the eAD group and rule-based moral behavioral transgressions more severely than controls. Across groups, higher care-based morality ratings correlated with phonemic fluency on neuropsychological tests, whereas higher rule-based morality ratings correlated with increased difficulty set-shifting and learning new rules to tasks. On neuroimaging, severe care-based reasoning correlated with cortical volume in right anterior temporal lobe, and rule-based reasoning correlated with decreased cortical volume in the right orbitofrontal cortex. Together, these findings suggest that frontotemporal disease decreases care-based morality and facilitates rule-based morality possibly from disturbed contextual abstraction and set-shifting. Future research can examine whether frontal lobe disorders and bvFTD result in a shift from empathic morality to the strong adherence to conventional rules.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Neuropsychologia
  • Source
    • "Because Korean participants have taken moral education classes for nine to twelve years during their childhood and adolescence, they would habituate formal moral problem solving, and it would be reflected in significant neural activity in the brain region associated with familiarity (Han, Glover, & Jeong 2014). In addition, the enhanced moral competence was positively correlated with the decreased neural activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) associated with cognitive control (Prehn et al. 2008). Given this result, the enhanced moral competence that represents the habituated and trained moral judgment would change the neural substrate of cognitive control; it would also mean that a person who has successfully habituated and internalized sophisticated moral judgment does not experience significant emotional conflicts when she is solving moral dilemmas and does not have to strongly rely on the cognitive control process to protect a moral decision from other self-oriented ends. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This essay develops a new conceptual framework of science and engineering ethics education based on virtue ethics and positive psychology. Virtue ethicists and positive psychologists have argued that current rule-based moral philosophy, psychology, and education cannot effectively promote students’ moral motivation for actual moral behavior and may even lead to negative outcomes, such as moral schizophrenia. They have suggested that their own theoretical framework of virtue ethics and positive psychology can contribute to the effective promotion of motivation for self-improvement by connecting the notion of morality and eudaimonic happiness. Thus this essay attempts to apply virtue ethics and positive psychology to science and engineering ethics education and to develop a new conceptual framework for more effective education. In addition to the conceptual-level work, this essay suggests two possible educational methods: moral modeling and involvement to actual moral activity in science and engineering ethics classes, based on the conceptual framework.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Science and Engineering Ethics
    • "Greater activity was observed in left TPJ, mPFC, right TP and left STG to moral and social transgression stories. Prehn et al. (2008) used fMRI, while participants made either socio-normative or grammatical judgments, to investigate how individual differences in moral judgment competence are reflected in the human brain When identifying social norm violations, participants with lower moral judgment competence recruited the left mPFC and the left posterior STS more than participants with greater competence in this domain. Young and Saxe (2009) used fMRI while participants read descriptions of a protagonist's action and then judged about the action's effect on another person or non-moral facts about the situation. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present review aimed to check two proposals alternative to the original version of the 'semantic hub' hypothesis, based on Semantic Dementia (SD) data, which assumed that left and right anterior temporal lobes (ATLs) store in a unitary, amodal format all kinds of semantic representations. The first alternative proposal is that the right ATL might subsume non-verbal representations and the left ATL lexical-semantic representations and that only in the advanced stages of SD, when atrophy affects the ATLs bilaterally, the semantic impairment becomes 'multi-modal'. The second alternative suggestion is that right and left ATLs might underlie two different domains of knowledge, because general conceptual knowledge might be supported by the left ATL, and social cognition by the right ATL. Results of the review substantially support the first proposal, showing that the right ATL subsumes non-verbal representations and the left ATL lexical-semantic representations. They are less conclusive about the second suggestion, because the right ATL seems to play a more important role in behavioural and emotional functions than in higher level social cognition. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Show more