Interindividual neural differences in moral decision-making are mediated by alpha power and delta/theta phase coherence

Annemarie Wolff, Javier Gomez-Pilar, Takashi Nakao, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


As technology in Artificial Intelligence has developed, the question of how to program driverless cars to respond to an emergency has arisen. It was recently shown that approval of the consequential behavior of driverless cars varied with the number of lives saved and showed interindividual differences, with approval increasing alongside the number of lives saved. In the present study, interindividual differences in individualized moral decision-making at both the behavioral and neural level were investigated using EEG. It was found that alpha event-related spectral perturbation (ERSP) and delta/theta phase-locking – intertrial coherence (ITC) and phase-locking value (PLV) – play a central role in mediating interindividual differences in Moral decision-making. In addition, very late alpha activity differences between individualized and shared stimuli, and delta/theta ITC, where shown to be closely related to reaction time and subjectively perceived emotional distress. This demonstrates that interindividual differences in Moral decision-making are mediated neuronally by various markers – late alpha ERSP, and delta/theta ITC - as well as psychologically by reaction time and perceived emotional distress. Our data show, for the first time, how and according to which neuronal and behavioral measures interindividual differences in Moral dilemmas can be measured.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4432
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 14 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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