Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

On the neurology of morals

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

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).

References

  1. Harlow, J. M. Boston Med. Surg. J. 39, 389–393 (1848).

  2. Anderson, S. W., Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D. & Damasio, A. R. Nat. Neurosci. 2, 1032–1037 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Damasio, A. R. & Van Hoesen, G. W. in Neuropsychology of Human Emotion (eds. Heilman, K. M. & Satz, P.) 85–110 (Guilford, New York, 1983).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Damasio, A. R., Tranel, D. & Damasio, H. Behav. Brain Res. 41, 81–94 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bechara, A., Damasio, A. R., Damasio, H. & Anderson, S. W. Cognition 50, 7–15 (1994).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Luria, A. R. The Higher Cortical Functions In Man (Basic Books, New York, 1980).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  7. Nauta, W. J. H. J. Psychiatr. Res. 8, 167–187 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Damasio, A. Descartes' Error (Grosset/Putnam, New York, 1994).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Tremblay, L. & Schultz, W. Nature 398, 704–708 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Schoenbaum, G., Chiba, A. A. & Gallagher, M. Nat. Neurosci. 1, 155–159 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gallagher, M., McMahan, R. W. & Schoenbaum, G. J. Neurosci. 19, 6610–6614 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Elliott, R., Frith, C. D. & Dolan, R. J. Neuropsychologia 247, 1395–1404 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dolan, R. On the neurology of morals. Nat Neurosci 2, 927–929 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/14707

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/14707

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing