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The neural correlates of moral decision-making: A systematic review and meta-analysis of moral evaluations and response decision judgements

Garrigan, Beverley, Adlam, A.L.R, Langdon, Peter E. (2016) The neural correlates of moral decision-making: A systematic review and meta-analysis of moral evaluations and response decision judgements. Brain and Cognition, 108 . pp. 88-97. ISSN 0278-2626. (doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2016.07.007) (KAR id:56608)


The aims of this systematic review were to determine: (a) which brain areas are consistently more active when making (i) moral response decisions, defined as choosing a response to a moral dilemma, or deciding whether to accept a proposed solution, or (ii) moral evaluations, defined as judging the appropriateness of another’s actions in a moral dilemma, rating moral statements as right or wrong, or identifying important moral issues; and (b) shared and significantly different activation patterns for these two types of moral judgements. A systematic search of the literature returned 28 experiments. Activation likelihood estimate analysis identified the brain areas commonly more active for moral response decisions and for moral evaluations. Conjunction analysis revealed shared activation for both types of moral judgement in the left middle temporal gyrus, cingulate gyrus, and medial frontal gyrus. Contrast analyses found no significant clusters of increased activation for the moral evaluations-moral response decisions contrast, but found that moral response decisions additionally activated the left and right middle temporal gyrus and the right precuneus. Making one’s own moral decisions involves different brain areas compared to judging the moral actions of others, implying that these judgements may involve different processes.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.bandc.2016.07.007
Uncontrolled keywords: Moral evaluation (ME), moral response decision (MRD), Activation likelihood estimate analysis (ALE), meta-analysis, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (
Depositing User: Peter Langdon
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 17:17 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Langdon, Peter E..

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