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Does stroke affect the moral compass?

Does stroke affect the moral compass?
16th September 2014

Individuals who experience a stroke could have an altered moral compass as a result, scientists believe.

These people could be more likely to forgive others, assuming no actual harm has been carried out, everydayhealth.com reported. 

Researchers in Buenos Aires wrote in the September issue of JAMA Neurology that strokes affecting the frontal regions of the brain were likely to have this impact on individuals. It is believed the effect is similar to that of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). 

In this trial, eight participants who had experienced a stroke in the front part of the brain were studied, as were 19 with FTD and an equal number of control patients. No one had any psychiatric disorders, neurological conditions or brain damage. 

They were given four different situations to do with harm - a successful attempt, an unsuccessful one, accidental harm and no damage at all. 

Both the individuals who had experienced a stroke and the FTD group deemed the situation where harm was intended but not caused as more acceptable than the control volunteers. 

Dr Agustin Ibanez from the Institute of Cognitive Neurology in Buenos Aires said: "For both disorders, patients judged scenarios where the protagonists believed that they would cause harm but did not as being more permissible than the control group."

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