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Poster A59

Examining the neural correlates of error and moral processing

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Shyh-Chang Kao1 (, Cheng-Yi Chen2, Yang-Teng Fan3, Ya-Wei Cheng1; 1National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, 2Taipei Medical University, 3Yuan Ze University

Error processing is a critical human mechanism. Classical psychological tasks have identified neural activities linked to error awareness for objective errors. Yet, our understanding of how humans subjectively discern right from wrong in moral contexts remains limited. In this study, 31 participants are asked to observe a series of actions and then mentally simulate themselves performing these behaviors, which are categorized as morally right and morally wrong. These simulations will be conducted while the participants are under EEG and MRI scanners. Although no differences were observed in the early ERP component (error-related negativity, ERN) across different scenarios, variations in the ERN amplitudes of the subjects successfully predicted individual differences in their proneness to guilt. Furthermore, later components exhibited greater negativity in immoral scenarios. The subjects' activity in the anterior cingulate cortex was correlated with both their late negativity (LN) amplitude and self-reported guilt ratings in morally-wrong trials. Activity in the amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and temporoparietal junction also showed correlations with the subjects' LN amplitude. Consistent with the moral dynamic framework, our findings demonstrate individual variability in the widespread functional neural networks associated with moral judgments. These results suggest that individual differences in error awareness may be reflected in both objective and subjective perceptions of wrongness, and may further predict feelings of guilt related to these perceptions.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions


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April 13–16  |  2024