The nature of moral action versus moral judgment has been extensively debated in numerous disciplines. We introduce Virtual Reality (VR) moral paradigms examining the action individuals take in a high emotionally arousing, direct action-focused, moral scenario. In two studies involving qualitatively different populations, we found a greater endorsement of utilitarian responses–killing one in order to save many others–when action was required in moral virtual dilemmas compared to their judgment counterparts. Heart rate in virtual moral dilemmas was significantly increased when compared (...) to both judgment counterparts and control virtual tasks. Our research suggests that moral action may be viewed as an independent construct to moral judgment, with VR methods delivering new prospects for investigating and assessing moral behaviour. (shrink)
Recent advances in virtual technologies have allowed the investigation of simulated moral actions in aversive moral dilemmas. Previous studies have employed diverse populations in order to explore these actions, with little research considering the significance of occupation on moral decision-making. For the first time, in this study we have investigated simulated moral actions in Virtual Reality made by professionally trained paramedics and fire service incident commanders who are frequently faced with and must respond to moral dilemmas. We found that specially (...) trained individuals showed distinct empathic and related personality trait scores and that these declined with years of experience working in the profession. Supporting the theory that these professionals develop resilience in moral conflict, reduced emotional arousal was observed during virtual simulations of a distressing dilemma. Furthermore, trained professionals demonstrated less regret following the execution of a moral action in virtual reality when compared to untrained control populations. We showed that, contrary to previous research, trained individuals made the same moral judgments and moral actions as untrained individuals, though showing less arousal and regret. In the face of increasing concerns regarding empathy decline in healthcare professionals, we suggest that the nature of this decline is complex and likely reflects the development of a necessary emotional resilience to distressing events. (shrink)
This commentary focuses on four major points: (1) “Tacit knowledge” is not a complete explanation for imagery phenomena, if it is an explanation at all. (2) Similarities and dissimilarities between imagery and perception are entirely consistent with the depictive view. (3) Knowledge about the brain is crucial for settling the debate. (4) It is not clear what sort of theory Pylyshyn advocates.
This article describes key paradigms employed to assess deception and reviews the main neuroscience-based technologies that have been employed to investigate the neural correlates of deception: electroencephalography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and transcranial direct current stimulation. Any potential use of neuroscience-based methods to detect deception in real-life situations requires successful classification in single subjects. It describes findings on the single subject performance of these methods and addresses the effects of two factors that are problematic for all deception detection methods, the (...) potential use of countermeasures, strategies used by subjects to defeat the deception detection tests, and the potential role of false memories and of incidental encoding. It briefly outlines some of the ethical issues associated with these technologies to detect deceptive behavior. (shrink)
Self-enhancement is the biasing of one’s view of oneself in a positive direction. The brain correlates of self-enhancement remain unclear though it has been reported that the medial prefrontal cortex may be important for producing self-enhancing responses. Previous studies have not examined whether the neural correlates of self-enhancement depend on the particular domain in which individuals are enhancing themselves. Both moralistic and egoistic words were presented to participants while transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied to the MPFC, precuneus or in a (...) sham orientation. Participants were asked to make decisions as to the words describing themselves, some of which were positive and some of which were negative. It was found the MPFC TMS significantly disrupted egoistic self-enhancement when TMS was delivered to the MPFC. Judgments involving moralistic words were not influenced by TMS. These data provide further evidence that MPFC is involved in self-enhancement, and that the role of MPFC may be selective in this regard. (shrink)
People categorize objects slowly when visual input is highly impoverished instead of optimal. While bottom-up models may explain a decision with optimal input, perceptual hypothesis testing (PHT) theories implicate top-down processes with impoverished input. Brain mechanisms and the time course of PHT are largely unknown. This event-related potential study used a neuroimaging paradigm that implicated prefrontal cortex in top-down modulation of occipitotemporal cortex. Subjects categorized more impoverished and less impoverished real and pseudo objects. PHT theories predict larger impoverishment effects for (...) real than pseudo objects because top-down processes modulate knowledge only for real objects, but different PHT variants predict different timing. Consistent with parietal-prefrontal PHT variants, around 250 ms, the earliest impoverished real object interaction started on an N3 complex, which reflects interactive cortical activity for object cognition. N3 impoverishment effects localized to both prefrontal and occipitotemporal cortex for real objects only. The N3 also showed knowledge effects by 230 ms that localized to occipitotemporal cortex. Later effects reflected (a) word meaning in temporal cortex during the N400, (b) internal evaluation of prior decision and memory processes and secondary higher-order memory involving anterotemporal parts of a default mode network during posterior positivity (P600), and (c) response related activity in posterior cingulate during an anterior slow wave (SW) after 700 ms. Finally, response activity in supplementary motor area during a posterior SW after 900 ms showed impoverishment effects that correlated with RTs. Convergent evidence from studies of vision, memory, and mental imagery which reflects purely top-down inputs, indicates that the N3 reflects the critical top-down processes of PHT. A hybrid multiple-state interactive, PHT and decision theory best explains the visual constancy of object cognition. (shrink)