Participants needed for brain study on morality

A reader of this blog told me that he had participated in a study on morality and that they are looking for more people.

Study Name: Moral Boundaries
Location: CCIR at University Hospital (in Cleveland)
Researcher: Megan Norr

Detailed Description:

This study consists of a 2.5 hour research appointment which takes place at the Case Center for Imaging Research at University Hospital. This study seeks to define which brain areas are responsible for moral judgment processing and to determine how they are working with other parts of the brain when we make moral judgments. By using behavioral questionnaires to gather information about individual attitudes on morality and fMRI to examine brain activation in response to a variety of stimuli, we hope to shed some light on the neural representation of human morality. During the appointment, participants will complete a computer-based questionnaire which takes roughly 1 hour and participate in an MRI scan which will take 1 hour and 10 minutes. The MRI session consists of a variety of unique tasks, including viewing of photos and video, listening to stories, reading text, and responding to opinion questions. Some stimuli in this study may be morally challenging or alarming. All participants will have the opportunity to view sample stimuli prior to beginning the study. Participation is voluntary. Participants will be compensated a flat rate of $50. If you are a medical doctor, medical student, or professional in the fields of biology or medicine, you are ineligible for this study.

I believe they are looking for people in the 30-40 year old range but they may not be too rigid about the boundaries.

The blog reader who participated said this about his experience:

In short, It’s a morality study that uses MRI and behavioral measures to examine human morality. They investigate brain areas responsible for moral judgment and moral attitudes. It was a fun experience, asked many thought-provoking questions that revealed many subtleties about myself after some self-reflection and makes for interesting conversation amongst friends over drinks. Would love to give examples, but I don’t want to influence the test in any way if you participate. So neat!.. O and the frosting and cherry on top: they give you a 3D movie of your brain on CD when you are done!

If you are interested you can register and schedule an appointment online or contact Megan Norr at


  1. Tim says

    Interesting research, Mano. Related to this topic, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the potential for biological reductionism that studies like create.

  2. says


    It depends on the meaning attached to the word reductionism. I think all our moral decisions arise from the workings of the material brain and nothing more. So I am a thoroughgoing materialist but am not sure if you think of that as being reductionist.

    On the other hand, I am not sure that we will reach the stage where we can can, at the level of the firing of individual neurons, be able to explain or predict moral decisions. That form of reductionism has proved to be quite elusive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *