What Happens When the Brain Encounters Naughtiness?

When a person thinks about naughty things, does one side of the brain get more exercised than the other? Eight scientists studied that question. Their report, Hemispheric Asymmetries During Processing of Immoral Stimuli, appears in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience. The stated goal is to describe “the neural organisation of moral processing”.

Debra Lieberman, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Miami, Florida, acts as spokesperson for the team. Other members are based at Miami, and at the University of New Mexico and at Stanford University in California. Another, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong [pictured here], is at Duke University in North Carolina.

They had to work with a few limitations – the same limitations that apply to anyone who tries to describe what’s going on in the brain….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian

BONUS: Further thoughts, by John Rennie and Jonah Lehrer, and Bradley Voytek, about neatly-and-tidily-and-confidently interpreting fMRI pictures (and brain thingies in general).

BONUS: The forthrightly named Professor Sinnott-Armstrong’s web site good-naturedly makes this offer:

Fallacies revealed
Concepts analyzed
Issues resolved
Theories constructed
All work done on premises
Call for a free estimate