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On the neurology of morals


Patients with medial prefrontal lesions often display irresponsible behavior, despite being intellectually unimpaired. But similar lesions occurring in early childhood can also prevent the acquisition of factual knowledge about accepted standards of moral behavior.

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Figure 1: Reconstruction of the lesion incurred by Phineas Gage, in which an iron bar was driven through his prefrontal cortex as a result of a blasting accident.
Figure 2: MAP-3 overlap showing regions of frontal lobe damaged by lesions in early childhood (cross-hatched) or adulthood (colored).


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Dolan, R. On the neurology of morals. Nat Neurosci 2, 927–929 (1999).

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