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Brain Injury Linked to Moral Choices

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideMarch 23, 2007

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A new study links brain damage in an area of the brain known as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to moral decisions. In the study, which appears online in the scientific journal Nature, participants who had suffered damage to this area of the brain due to stroke or injury were presented with hypothetical situations in which they were asked to make a decision. While these individuals were able to make normal decisions when the choice did not involve a moral component, they reported more willingness to harm or kill another person if such an action would spare the lives of others.

"There is a natural emotional revulsion over harming someone else, combined with sympathy for that person. This seems to be lacking in these patients," researcher Antonio Damasio of the University of Southern California told Nature.

Nature and the New York Times have further information on this story.

Related: Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

Photo courtesy Rodrigo Galindo
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