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  • 1.
    Blomgren, Ami
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience.
    The Neural Correlates of Emotion and Reason in Moral Cognition2019Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Humans are a social species. Automatic affective responses generated by neural systems wired into our brains create a moral intuition or “gut-feeling” of wrong and right that guides our moral judgments. Humans are also an intelligent, problem solving and planning species with neural structures that enable cognitive control and the ability to reason about the costs and benefits of decisions, and moral judgments, not the least. Previous research suggests that moral intuition and moral reasoning operates on different neural networks - a dual process of moral cognition, that sometimes gives rise to an inner conflict in moral judgments. Early lesion studies found correlations between damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and changes in moral behaviour. This has been further established through brain imaging studies and the suggestion is that VMPFC mediates affective signals from the amygdala in moral decision making and is highly involved in generating the gut-feeling of right and wrong. However, some moral issues are complex and demand higher level processing than intuition, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) seems to be responsible for the rational, cost-benefit reasoning during moral judgments. Further, recent research suggests that during moral judgments, the brain employ neural systems that generates the representation of value, perspective and cognitive control as well as the representation of the mental and emotional states of others. The present thesis aims to investigate prominent and up to date research on the neural correlates of necessary components in moral cognition, and to examine the function of moral intuition versus reason in relation to current complex moral issues. Moral intuition is supposedly an adaption to favour “us” before “them”, not to be concerned with large scale cooperation, which may explain why we treat many moral issues with ignorance. Understanding how the moral brain works involve understanding what sort of tasks the neural mechanisms in moral cognition evolved to handle, which may explain why some modern issues are so difficult to solve.

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