The Neuroscience of Morality: A Review of Research


  • Nataša Šimić Sveučilište u Zadru, Odjel za psihologiju, Zadar, Hrvatska


moral reasoning, decision-making, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, amygdala, insula


This paper includes a review of moral neuroscience research with an emphasis on moral reasoning and decision-making. The first part of the paper includes an overview of theoretical approaches and constructs which elaborate the primary role of cognitive or emotional processes in moral reasoning. The second part of the paper provides insights into neuroscience research that considers and confirms the role of both processes in moral reasoning. The main brain areas in moral reasoning are the regions of the prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, amygdala, and insula. In addition to the above areas, the regions of the temporal and parietal lobe of the cerebral cortex that are associated with the theory of mind are also activated. This review includes a discussion about functional contributions to different brain parts and numerous studies indicate that cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms are underlying moral reasoning and decision-making.