The neuroimaging of sacred values

Oscar Vilarroya, Joseph Hilferty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2013 New York Academy of Sciences. Sacred (or protected) values (SVs) constitute core beliefs that define primary reference groups. There is significant research on SVs at a behavioral level, but their neural underpinnings are just beginning to be discovered. In this paper, we highlight the current state of neuroimaging research concerning SVs. Given that SVs are considered to be strongly motivated by moral principles, we first provide an outline of the neural circuits that have been found to be involved in moral cognition. We then review various neuroimaging studies that have explored the notion of SVs. Specifically, we concentrate on neuroimaging studies dealing with intergroup bias and those that focus on social norms, since these are two basic dimensions of SVs that have been studied with neuroimaging techniques. Finally, we review two studies that have directly addressed SVs with neuroimaging techniques, and we offer suggestions for further avenues of study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • brain mapping
  • neuroimaging
  • sacred values


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