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Multiple cortical networks intervene in moral judgment, among which the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the medial prefrontal structures (medial PFC) emerged as two major territories, which have been traditionally attributed, respectively, to cognitive control and affective reactions. However, some recent theoretical and empirical accounts disputed this dualistic approach to moral evaluation. In the present study, to further assess the functional contribution of the medial PFC in moral judgment, we modulated its cortical excitability by means of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and tracked the change in response to different types of moral dilemmas, including switch-like and footbridge-like moral dilemmas, with and without personal involvement. One hundred participants (50 males) completed a questionnaire to assess the baseline levels of deontology. Next, participants were randomly assigned to receive anodal, sham, or cathodal tDCS over the medial prefrontal structures and then were asked to address a series of dilemmas. The results showed that participants who received anodal stimulation over the medial PFC provided more utilitarian responses to switch-like (but not footbridge-like) dilemmas than those who received cathodal tDCS. We also found that neurostimulation modulated the influence that deontology has on moral choices. Specifically, in the anodal tDCS group, participants’ decisions were less likely to be influenced by their baseline levels of deontology compared with the sham or cathodal groups. Overall, our results seem to refute a functional role of the medial prefrontal structures purely restricted to affective reactions for moral dilemmas, providing new insights on the functional contribution of the medial PFC in moral judgment.
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... Transcranial Direct Current Simulation (tDCS) enabled researchers to examine the causal relationship between a functionality of interest and a brain region or circuitry by temporarily altering activity in the brain region or circuitry of interest (Young et al. 2010;Bestmann and Feredoes 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Previous neurostimulation studies have demonstrated that influencing regions and circuitries associated with moral functioning, e.g., the DMN, significantly changed moral cognition and behavior, e.g., evaluating self-traits, evaluating others' intent regarding moral transgression, moral decision making, and compliant behavior (Lou et al. 2010;Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). ...
... Transcranial Direct Current Simulation (tDCS) enabled researchers to examine the causal relationship between a functionality of interest and a brain region or circuitry by temporarily altering activity in the brain region or circuitry of interest (Young et al. 2010;Bestmann and Feredoes 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Previous neurostimulation studies have demonstrated that influencing regions and circuitries associated with moral functioning, e.g., the DMN, significantly changed moral cognition and behavior, e.g., evaluating self-traits, evaluating others' intent regarding moral transgression, moral decision making, and compliant behavior (Lou et al. 2010;Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). ...
... The large-scale neuroimaging evidence may suggest that moral functioning is inseparable from considerations and deliberations on others (the theory of mind) and oneself (self-related processes) (Colby and Damon 1993; Young et al. 2010). Furthermore, findings from brain stimulation studies that disrupted brain regions associated with self-related processes or mentalizing reported significant changes in moral decision-making and behavior, which also supports the point (Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Given these two functionalities were most strongly associated with moral functioning consistently across neuroimaging and experimental research, we may assume that these are central and even fundamental in moral functioning in general. ...
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In this paper, findings from research in neuroscience of morality will be reviewed to consider the purposes of moral education. Particularly, I will focus on two main themes in neuroscience, novel neuroimaging and experimental investigations, and Bayesian learning mechanism. First, I will examine how neuroimaging and experimental studies contributed to our understanding of psychological mechanisms associated with moral functioning while addressing methodological concerns. Second, Bayesian learning mechanism will be introduced to acquire insights about how moral learning occurs in human brains. Based on the reviewed neuroscientific research on morality, I will examine how evidence can support the model of moral education proposed by virtue ethics, Neo-Aristotelian moral philosophy in particular. Particularly, two main aims of virtue ethics-based moral education, the habituation of virtues and the cultivation of phronesis, will be discussed as the important purposes of moral education based on neuroscientific evidence.
... Transcranial Direct Current Simulation (tDCS) enabled researchers to examine the causal relationship between a functionality of interest and a brain region or circuitry by temporarily altering activity in the brain region or circuitry of interest (Young et al. 2010;Bestmann and Feredoes 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Previous neurostimulation studies have demonstrated that influencing regions and circuitries associated with moral functioning, e.g., the DMN, significantly changed moral cognition and behavior, e.g., evaluating self-traits, evaluating others' intent regarding moral transgression, moral decision making, and compliant behavior (Lou et al. 2010;Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). ...
... Transcranial Direct Current Simulation (tDCS) enabled researchers to examine the causal relationship between a functionality of interest and a brain region or circuitry by temporarily altering activity in the brain region or circuitry of interest (Young et al. 2010;Bestmann and Feredoes 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Previous neurostimulation studies have demonstrated that influencing regions and circuitries associated with moral functioning, e.g., the DMN, significantly changed moral cognition and behavior, e.g., evaluating self-traits, evaluating others' intent regarding moral transgression, moral decision making, and compliant behavior (Lou et al. 2010;Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). ...
... The large-scale neuroimaging evidence may suggest that moral functioning is inseparable from considerations and deliberations on others (the theory of mind) and oneself (self-related processes) (Colby and Damon 1993;Young et al. 2010). Furthermore, findings from brain stimulation studies that disrupted brain regions associated with self-related processes or mentalizing reported significant changes in moral decision-making and behavior, which also supports the point (Young et al. 2010;Ruff et al. 2013;Riva et al. 2019). Given these two functionalities were most strongly associated with moral functioning consistently across neuroimaging and experimental research, we may assume that these are central and even fundamental in moral functioning in general. ...
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In this paper, findings from research in neuroscience of morality will be overviewed to consider the purposes of moral education. Particularly, I will focus on two main themes in neuroscience, novel neuroimaging and experimental investigations, and Bayesian learning mechanism. First, I will examine how neuroimaging and experimental studies contributed to our understanding of psychological mechanisms associated with moral functioning while addressing methodological concerns. Second, Bayesian learning mechanism will be introduced to acquire insights about how moral learning occurs in human brains. Based on the overviewed neuroscientific research on morality, I will examine how evidence can support the model of moral education proposed by virtue ethics, Neo-Aristotelian moral philosophy in particular. Particularly, two main aims of virtue ethics-based moral education, habituation of virtues and cultivation of phronesis, will be discussed as the important purposes of moral education based on neuroscientific evidence.
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Machine learning (ML) is a subarea of artificial intelligence which uses the induction approach to learn based on previous experiences and make conclusions about new inputs (Mitchell, Machine learning. McGraw Hill, 1997). In the last decades, the use of ML approaches to analyze neuroimaging data has attracted widening attention (Pereira et al., Neuroimage 45(1):S199–S209, 2009; Lemm et al., Neuroimage 56(2):387–399, 2011). Particularly interesting recent applications to affective and social neuroscience include affective state decoding, exploring potential biomarkers of neurological and psychiatric disorders, predicting treatment response, and developing real-time neurofeedback and brain-computer interface protocols. In this chapter, we review the bases of the most common neuroimaging techniques, the basic concepts of ML, and how it can be applied to neuroimaging data. We also describe some recent examples of applications of ML-based analysis of neuroimaging data to social and affective neuroscience issues. Finally, we discuss the main ethical aspects and future perspectives for these emerging approaches.
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Several studies have demonstrated sex differences in empathy and social abilities. This chapter reviews studies on sex differences in the brain, with particular reference to how women and men process faces and facial expressions, social interactions, pain of others, infant faces, faces in things ( pareidolia ), living vs. non-living information, purposeful actions, biological motion, erotic vs. emotional information. Sex differences in oxytocin-based attachment response and emotional memory are also discussed. Overall, the female and male brains show some neuro-functional differences in several aspects of social cognition, with particular regard to emotional coding, face processing and response to baby schema that might be interpreted in the light of evolutionary psychobiology.
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Embodiment has been discussed in the context of social, affective, and cognitive psychology, and also in the investigations of neuroscience in order to understand the relationship between biological mechanisms, body and cognitive, and social and affective processes. New theoretical models have been presented by researchers considering not only the sensory–motor interaction and the environment but also biological mechanisms regulating homeostasis and neural processes (Tsakiris M, Q J Exp Psychol 70(4):597–609, 2017). Historically, the body and the mind were comprehended as separate entities. The body was considered to function as a machine, responsible for providing sensory information to the mind and executing its commands. The mind, however, would process information in an isolated way, similar to a computer (Pecher D, Zwaan RA, Grounding cognition: the role of perception and action in memory, language, and thinking. Cambridge University Press, 2005). This mind and body perspective (Marmeleira J, Duarte Santos G, Percept Motor Skills 126, 2019; Marshall PJ, Child Dev Perspect 10(4):245–250, 2016), for many years, was the basis for studies in social and cognitive areas, in neuroscience, and clinical psychology.
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Emotions modulate behavioral priorities via central and peripheral nervous systems. Understanding emotions from the perspective of specific neurotransmitter systems is critical, because of the central role of affect in multiple psychopathologies and the role of specific neuroreceptor systems as corresponding drug targets. Here, we provide an integrative overview of molecular imaging studies that have targeted the human emotion circuit at the level of specific neuroreceptors and transmitters. We focus specifically on opioid, dopamine, and serotonin systems, given their key role in modulating motivation and emotions, and discuss how they contribute to both healthy and pathological emotions.Keywords Molecular imaging Human emotions Dopamine systemSerotonin systemOpioid system
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Emotions play a very important role in moral judgments. Hume argues that morality is determined by feelings that make us define whether an attitude is virtuous or criminal. This implies that an individual relies on their past experience to make a moral judgment, so that when the mind contemplates what it knows, it may trigger emotions such as disgust, contempt, affection, admiration, anger, shame, and guilt (Hume D. An enquiry concerning the principles of morals, 1777 ed. Sec. VI, Part I, para, 196, 1777). Thus, even so-called “basic” emotions can be considered as moral emotions. As Haidt (The moral emotions. In: Handbook of affective sciences, vol 11, 852–870, Oxford University Press, 2003) points out, all emotional processing that leads to the establishment and maintenance of the integrity of human social structures can be considered as moral emotion. Consequently, the construct of “morality” is often characterized by a summation of both emotion and cognitive elaboration (Haidt J. Psychol Rev, 108(4):814, 2001).
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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Social cognition refers to a wide range of cognitive abilities that allow individuals to understand themselves and others and also communicate in social interaction contexts (Adolphs, Curr Opin Neurobiol 11(2):231–239, 2001). According to Adolphs (Annu Rev Psychol 60(1):693–716, 2009), social cognition deals with psychological processes that allow us to make inferences about what is happening inside other people—their intentions, feelings, and thoughts. Although the term can be defined in many ways, it is clear that it must be safeguarded for the mental operations underlying social interactions. The most investigated cognitive processes of social cognition are emotion recognition and theory of mind (ToM), given that a whole range of socio-affective and interpersonal skills, such as empathy, derive from them (Mitchell RL, Phillips LH, Neuropsychologia, 70:1–10, 2015). Theory of mind is an intuitive ability to attribute thoughts and feelings to other people, and this ability usually matures in children in preschool age (Wellman HM, The child’s theory of mind. Bradford Books/MIT, 1990), whereas emotional recognition refers to an individual’s ability to identify others’ emotions and affective states, usually based on their facial or vocal expressions, it is a critical skill that develops early and supports the development of other social skills (Mitchell RL, Phillips LH, Neuropsychologia, 70:1–10, 2015).
... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
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... The authors did not evaluate differences in sex that could complement (Fumagalli et al., 2010) findings. Finally, recent work by Riva et al. (2018) investigated VMPFC modulation during a moral dilemma task, with the active electrode (anodal or cathodal) over VMPFC and the reference electrode over the occipital area. The findings revealed similar effects to Fumagalli et al. (2010) and Yuan et al. (2017), where participants receiving anodal tDCS over VMPFC had a higher frequency of utility judgments. ...
Chapter
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No matter how hard you try—pinching different parts of your body, slapping your face, or moving restlessly in your seat—you cannot prevent your mind from occasionally escaping from the present experience as you enter into a mental navigation mode. Sometimes spontaneously, others deliberately, your mind may move to a different time—you may see yourself running an experiment inspired by the chapter you just finished reading or you may imagine yourself on a quantum leap into the future as you fantasize about the delivery of your Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Your mind may move to a distinct space, for example, as you replay last weekend’s party or anticipate a most desirable date, and may even venture into the mind of another (e.g., as you embody the mind of the author you are currently reading). Our minds can accomplish all this mental navigation in fractions of a second, allowing us to see ourselves or even impersonate different people across space and time. While teleportation and time travel may never be physically possible, our wandering minds are indeed very accomplished “time machines” (Suddendorf T, Corballis MC, Behav Brain Sci 30(3), 2007).
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