AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


High Moral Reasoning Associated with Increased Activity in the Human Brain’s Reward System

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New study from Penn researchers provides clues to individual differences in moral development


Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain’s frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai, China and Charité Universitätsmediz in Berlin, Germany. The findings from the study may help researchers to understand how brain function differs in individuals at different stages of moral reasoning and why some individuals who reach a high level of moral reasoning are more likely to engage in certain “prosocial” behaviors – such as performing community service or giving to charity – based on more advanced principles and ethical rules.

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