Learning Sciences of Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7500 Readings

Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education

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Recent advances in neuroscience are highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning, and decision making that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the role of affect in education. In particular, the neurobiological evidence suggests that the aspects of cognition that we recruit most  heavily in schools, namely learning, attention, memory, decision making, and social functioning, are both profoundly affected by and subsumed within the processes of emotion; we call these aspects emotional thought.  Moreover, the evidence from brain-damaged patients suggests the hypothesis that emotion-related processes are required for skills and knowledge to be transferred from the structured school environment to real-world decision making because they provide an emotional rudder  to guide judgment and action. Taken together, the evidence we present sketches an account of the neurobiological underpinnings of morality, creativity, and culture, all topics of critical importance to education. Our hope is that a better understanding of the neurobiological relationships between these constructs will provide a new basis for innovation in the design of learning environments.


Read also: What is Wisdom and how is it Learned?

The Heart-Brain Connection: The Neuroscience of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning

Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The Physiology of Moral Sentiments

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Adam Smith made a persuasive case that “moral sentiments” are the foundation of ethical behaviors in his 1759 The Theory of Moral Sentiments.  This view is still controversial as philosophers debate  the extent of human morality.   One type of moral behavior,  assisting  a  stranger, has been shown by economists to be quite common  in the laboratory and outside it.  This paper presents the Empathy-Generosity-Punishment model that reveals the criticality of moral sentiments in producing prosocial behaviors. The model’s predictions are tested causally in three neuroeconomics experiments that directly intervene in the human brain to “turn up” and “turn down” moral sentiments.  This approach provides direct evidence on the brain mechanisms the produce prosociality using a brain circuit called HOME (Human Oxytocin-Mediated Empathy).   By characterizing the HOME circuit, I identify situations in which moral sentiments will be engaged or disengaged.  Using this information, applications to health and welfare policies, organizational and institutional design,  economic development, and happiness are presented.


Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Morality, Physiology

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