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Poster D139

Post Cingulate Cortex Mediates Emotional Approval of Victimization in the Moral Decision

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Yu Liu1, Motoaki Sugiura2; 1Graduate Schoole of Medicine, Tohoku University, 2Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University

People often feel the decision to be more difficult when it causes harm to others. Hence, we hypothesize that in trolley-problem-like dilemmas, a 2-stage process is required where options are first compared for both emotional and utilitarian values, then the emotional value of the tentative victim will determine if the consequence is acceptable. Although previous studies have proven that emotional and utilitarian value differences determine the decision, it remains unclear that how the mind overcomes emotional response to violating moral standards. In this study, we identified brain regions responding to the 2 stages of moral decision-making, and those responding to emotional and utilitarian value differences, respectively. We collected functional MRI data of 40 participants making moral decisions in trolley-problem-like dilemmas constructed with fictional characters. Participants must choose to save only 1 character and to leave the other one as victim, in cases of emergency. Fictional characters are depicted with realistic photos and stories. Participants were asked to familiarize those characters and evaluate them for their values in advance. Analysis revealed that activation in dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex negatively correlates utilitarian value differences between options, indicating their role in the reasoning system that deal with utilitarian values of the options. More interestingly, posterior cingulate cortex was identified to be positively corelates to the emotional value of the victim (i.e., unchosen). These results demonstrates that while cognitive network mediates utilitarian appraisals and makes tentative decision based on the value comparison, PCC specifically mediates emotional acceptance of victimization.

Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making


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