Neural correlates of human virtue judgment

Hidehiko Takahashi, Motoichiro Kato, Masato Matsuura, Michihiko Koeda, Noriaki Yahata, Tetsuya Suhara, Yoshiro Okubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that the brain regions implicated in moral cognition. However, those studies have focused exclusively on violation of social norms and negative moral emotions, and very little effort has been expended on the investigation of positive reactions to moral excellence. It remains unclear whether the brain regions implicated in moral cognition have specific roles in processing moral violation or, more generally, process human morality per se. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, brain activations during evaluation of moral beauty and depravity were investigated. Praiseworthiness for moral beauty was associated with activation in the orbitofrontal cortex, whereas blameworthiness for moral depravity was related to the posterior superior temporal sulcus. Humans might have developed different neurocognitive systems for evaluating blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. The central process of moral beauty evaluation might be related to that of aesthetic evaluation. Our finding might contribute to a better understanding of human morality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1891
Number of pages6
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • Blameworthiness
  • Moral
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Praiseworthiness
  • Superior temporal sulcus
  • Virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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