Understanding the difference between right and wrong is part of a cognitive toolkit that starts out early in life and grows in complexity. There are still countless mysteries about that growth: how much of the moral toolkit are babies born with? What pieces fall into place at what age? How does a baby’s environment affect its moral cognition, and how does moral cognition affect behaviour?
A paper in this week’s issue of PNAS builds on previous studies of infant morality to explore what happens in babies’ brains while they watch social interactions. The authors also determine how these neural signals match up with their own behaviours and their parents’ beliefs.