text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
"Harm's Way" -- The Discovery Files


The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver.

People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Moral compass.

I'm Bob Karson with The Discovery Files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: clock ticking) Say you witness someone being physically harmed, how long does it take you to decide if the harm was accidental or intentional? According to researchers from the University of Chicago, no more than a split second.

The team monitored brain activity in adult volunteers as the subjects watched videos of people who suffered accidental or intentional harm. When the clips showed intentional harm, areas of the brain linked with emotion and moral decision-making were quickly activated. When the videos showed accidental harm being inflicted, there was no such response in those parts of the brain.

The study is the first to explain how our brains are hard-wired to recognize intentional harm, and shows that moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional. It suggests that our moral responses stem not from deliberate reasoning, but instead from emotion and the perception of intention.

The findings may aid in other areas of neurodevelopment research. And may give us insights into the moral responses of people who display cold, unfeeling, or even psychopathic behavior.

As you make moral judgments in milliseconds& let your amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex be your guide.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the governments National Science Foundation. Learn more at nsf.gov.

 
General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page