"Research of the last couple decades has shown that injuries to a part of the brain called the right
temporoparietal junction (RTPJ), located at the brain’s surface above and behind the right ear, can change a patient’s moral judgments. When these patients are asked to answer morally challenging questions that weigh the life of one person against others, they consistently make utilitarian decisions without feeling the least bit uneasy. Their moral judgments about life and death, so vexing to most of us, become clinical and routine.
Researchers have recently found that they can induce a similar effect using magnetism (transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS) to disrupt RTPJ activity. When participants were exposed to magnetic “bursts” from a TMS device, their judgments about what is morally permissible significantly changed. For example, they were more likely to say that intending to harm another was morally permissible if the other person luckily avoided becoming a victim; they considered the intention of the first person to be irrelevant. The effect was only temporary, but the implications are massive. Most of us consider moral judgment a higher order thought process, but this research shows that it can be tweaked by a weak magnetic field in a matter of minutes." - One of David DiSalvo's Five Big Developments in Neuroscience to Watch, via.
Full article: Disruption of the right temporoparietal junction with transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces the role of beliefs in moral judgments by Liane Young, Joan Albert Camprodon, Marc Hauser, Alvaro Pascual-Leone and Rebecca Saxe, here.
Image: my neurons.