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Handbook of ValuePerspectives from Economics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology$
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Tobias Brosch and David Sander

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716600.001.0001

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The neural underpinnings of moral values

The neural underpinnings of moral values

(p.119) Chapter 6 The neural underpinnings of moral values
Handbook of Value

Jorge Moll

Roland Zahn

Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza

Oxford University Press

Values are abstract, trans-situational, goals with emotional overtones that cultures and people strive to attain. Moral values (e.g., “justice,” “harmony of nature”) differ from other kinds of values because they are tied to the welfare of others or to social principles. Recent neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that brain systems engaged by selfish rewards, such as food, sex, and money, partially overlap with those engaged by morally salient values. Moral values, however, rely on wider, distributed neural representations of social concepts (anterior temporal lobes), emotional-motivational predispositions (basal forebrain and other subcortical structures) and contextual-sequential knowledge (prefrontal cortex). How moral values and their hierarchies build on our unique ability to integrate cultural symbols with cognition, emotion, and motivation, how they are organized in the brain and whether they can be identified in individuals from patterns of brain activity is a challenge for future research.

Keywords:   morality, social brain, moral values, psychopathy, antisocial behavior, moral motivation, moral emotions

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