Moral Dilemma Judgment Revisited: A Loreta Analysis


Background: Recent neuroscience investigations on moral judgment have provided useful information about how brain processes such complex decision making. All these studies carried out so far were fMRI investigations and therefore were constrained by the poor temporal resolution of this technique. Recent advances in electroencephalography (EEG) analysis provided by Low Resolution Tomogray (Loreta), Principal Component (PCA), Correlation and Regression Analysis improved EEG spatial resolution and made EEG a very useful technique in decision-making studies. Methods: Here, we reinvestigate previous fMRI study of personal (PD) and impersonal (ID) moral dilemma judgment, taking profit of these new EEG analysis improvements. Results: PCA analysis disclosed three different patterns of brain activity associated with dilemma judgment. These patterns are proposed to disclose the neural circuits involved in benefit and risk evaluation, calculating intention to act and controlling decision-making. Regression analysis showed that activity at some cortical areas favors action implementation by increasing intention to act, while activity at some other areas opposes it by decreasing intention to act. Comparison with Existing Methods: Compared to the previous fMRI results, Loreta and PCA revealed a much greater number of cortical areas involved in dilemma judgment, whose temporal and spatial distribution were different for ID compared to PD. The present paper suggests that whenever final temporal details of the decision making process are desired, EEG becomes the tool of choice as compared with fMRI. Conclusions: The presented results are discussed from the utilitarian point of view that proposes adequacy of human action being dependent upon how much pleasure and fear/pain they are associated.

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A. Rocha, F. Rocha and E. Massad, "Moral Dilemma Judgment Revisited: A Loreta Analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2013, pp. 624-640. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.38066.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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