Investigation of moral cognition using the tDCS.

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Information about Investigation of moral cognition using the tDCS.

Published on May 30, 2014

Author: Margaux_Devau



tDCS Study in SPRINGLAB (neurosciences laboratory at UCL) on the investigation of moral cognition and the understanding of the underlying cognitive mechanisms.

1. Introduction 2. Hypothesis 3. Methodology 4. Results 5. General discussion

Moral judgment = A process that integrates informations about intentional properties and consequences of the behavior made by a person. Cushman, F. (2008)

There are : ①Evaluation of the intention to harm somebody (=mental state of agent) ②Evaluation of the consequence of an action Intentional factors > Consequence factors. Cushman, F. (2008)

The rTPJ (Right Temporo-Parietal Junction) is responsible for taking into consideration intention’s informations in moral judgments. Young et al., 2010 Activation rTPJ  consideration of the intention Activation rTPJ  consideration of the intention

tDCS study= the modulation of TPJ modulate: • Social cognitive abilities of subjects • Abilities to take perspective of other person Santiesteban (2012) fMRI study = the activation of the rTPJ is modulated according to stories about accidental or intentional harm. Koster-Hale (2013) tDCS study = investigation of the activation of rTPJ moral judgment (with stories about accidental or intentional harm). Dongo Miletich (2013)

Aim of the study = To test the causal relation between : ① The severity of the judgment of the action ② The right Temporo-Parietal Junction Table 1. The scenarios manipulate orthogonally the intention to harm and the consequence of the action

We hypothesized that : In « accidental harm » (INCH) condition : the severity of judgments in rTPJ stimulation the severity of judgments in rTPJ inhibition In « attempted harm »(IHCN) condition : the severity of judgments in rTPJ stimulation the severity of judgments in rTPJ inhibition

Participants : 24 healthy volunteers (12 women, 12 men, age range 18-30) right-handed and speaking French currently. Method: • Using tDCS over the rTPJ Fig 1. Illustration of tDCS procedure

Stimulation electrode over CP6 Reference electrode over C3 Current intensity : 1,5 mA Fig 2. Illustration of 10-20 system positioning

Participants were assigned to 1 of 3 tDCS conditions following a double-blind procedure : • Anodal • Cathodal • Sham

Parameters : • the gravity/seriousness of consequences • the nature of the consequences • the matching between protagonist’s names • the use of adults protagonist (with the same gender) • the physical and emotional closeness between protagonists. • the “word framing effect” • the keyboard = placed in vertical orientation • the current intensity = 1,5mA • Size electrodes : 25cm2 Christensen & Gomila (2012); Dongo Miletich (2013)

Procedure : Task : Fig 3. Procedure of experiment

1. Background information defining the context 2. Protagonist’s intention and action 3. Consequence of an action Fig 4. Task of moral judgment +

Fig 6. Example of "accidental harm" condition

Fig 7. Example of " attempted harm" condition

Experimental design : 3 x 2 x 2 3 Independent Variables : ① Group : Anodal / Cathodal / Sham ② Time : Before / After ③ Scenario type (= condition): Attempted harm / Accidental harm 1 Dependent Variable : The severity of the judgment of the action

 Effect of scenarios type : F(27,787), p = .000 ✗ No time effect ✗ No group effect (anodal,cathodal,sham)

Fig 5. Illustration of data, pre and post tDCS

Comments and limits of this study : • Number of participants: few subjects ? • Size and position of the reference electrode : current diffusion problem, and, too close of the left-TPJ ? • Problem of sensitivity of measurement by using Likert scale ? • To use yes/no questions ? • tDCS isn’t usable in moral cognition ? • rTPJ = area of integrating intention information ?

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