: We commonly label moral violations in terms of 'disgust', yet it remains unclear whether metaphorical expressions linking disgust and morality are genuinely shared at the cognitive/neural level. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we provide new insights into this debate by measuring motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) from the tongue generated by TMS over the tongue primary motor area (tM1) in a small group of healthy participants presented with vignettes of moral transgressions and non-moral vignettes. We tested whether moral indignation, felt while evaluating moral vignettes, affected tM1 excitability. Vignettes exerted a variable influence on MEPs with no net effect of the moral category. However, in accordance with our recent study documenting reduced tM1 excitability during exposure to pictures of disgusting foods or facial expressions of distaste, we found that the vignettes of highly disapproved moral violations reduced tM1 excitability. Moreover, tM1 excitability and moral indignation were linearly correlated: the higher the moral indignation, the lower the tM1 excitability. Respective changes in MEPs were not observed in a non-oral control muscle, suggesting a selective decrease of tM1 excitability. These preliminary findings provide neurophysiological evidence supporting the hypothesis that morality might have originated from the more primitive experience of oral distaste.

Indignation for moral violations suppresses the tongue motor cortex: preliminary TMS evidence

Vicario, Carmelo M
;
Lucifora, Chiara
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

: We commonly label moral violations in terms of 'disgust', yet it remains unclear whether metaphorical expressions linking disgust and morality are genuinely shared at the cognitive/neural level. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we provide new insights into this debate by measuring motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) from the tongue generated by TMS over the tongue primary motor area (tM1) in a small group of healthy participants presented with vignettes of moral transgressions and non-moral vignettes. We tested whether moral indignation, felt while evaluating moral vignettes, affected tM1 excitability. Vignettes exerted a variable influence on MEPs with no net effect of the moral category. However, in accordance with our recent study documenting reduced tM1 excitability during exposure to pictures of disgusting foods or facial expressions of distaste, we found that the vignettes of highly disapproved moral violations reduced tM1 excitability. Moreover, tM1 excitability and moral indignation were linearly correlated: the higher the moral indignation, the lower the tM1 excitability. Respective changes in MEPs were not observed in a non-oral control muscle, suggesting a selective decrease of tM1 excitability. These preliminary findings provide neurophysiological evidence supporting the hypothesis that morality might have originated from the more primitive experience of oral distaste.
2022
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11570/3223239
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