Telling Right From Wrong

Have scientists found our moral compass?

Are some people bad because of their genes? Or because of an unfavorable upbringing? In recent years, the highly charged nature-vs.-nurture debate has surged back and forth without resolution. Now neuroscientists at the University of Iowa report intriguing evidence that neither genes nor upbringing may be the full explanation.

In the latest Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Antonio Damasio and his colleagues describe two young adults--a woman, 20, and a man, 23--who suffered early injuries to the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain thought to serve as a kind of moral and social compass. The woman was run over by a car...

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