Skip to main content

Moral Neuroeducation from Early Life Through the Lifespan


Personality and social development begins before birth in the communication among mother, child and environment, during sensitive periods when the child’s brain and body are plastic and epigenetically co-constructed. Triune ethics theory postulates three evolved, neurobiologically-based ethics fostered by early life experience. The security ethic is self-protective. The engagement ethic is relationally attuned. The imagination ethic can abstract from the present moment and imagine alternatives. Climates and cultures can foster one or another ethic. Ancestral environments were more conducive to moral development. Individuals can adopt self-authorship of their moral character through the development of ethical expertise. Recommendations are made for research and policies that study and support optimal moral development.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Lewis et al., p. 84

  2. 2.

    Lewis et al., p. 86

  3. 3.

    Dawson et al. [119], p. 699


  1. 1.

    Narvaez, D., J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. 2012. The value of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness for gauging children’s well-being. Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. New York: Oxford University Press. (in press).

  2. 2.

    Nucci, L.P., and D. Narvaez (eds.). 2008. Handbook of moral and character education. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Plato. 1974. The Republic (D. Lee, Trans.). London: Penguin Books.

  4. 4.

    Kant, I. 1949. Fundamental principles of the metaphysics of morals. New York: Liberal Arts.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kohlberg, L. 1981. The philosophy of moral development: Essays on moral development, vol. I. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Lapsley, D. 2008. Moral self-identity as the aim of education. In Handbook of moral and character education, ed. L.P. Nucci and D. Narvaez, 30–52. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Greenspan, S.I., and S.I. Shanker. 2004. The First idea. Cambridge: Da Capo.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Lakoff, G., and M. Johnson. 1999. Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: HarperCollins.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Panksepp, J. 1998. Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Schore, A. 2011. Bowlby’s “Environment of evolutionary adaptedness”: Recent studies on the interpersonal neurobiology of attachment and emotional development. In Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, ed. D. Narvaez, J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Collins, F. 2010. The language of life: DNA and the revolution in personalized medicine. New York: Harper Collins.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Meaney, M.J. 2001. Maternal care, gene expression, and the transmission of individual differences in stress reactivity across generations. Annual Review of Neuroscience 24: 1161–1192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kauffman, S.A. 1993. The origins of order: Self-organization and selection in evolution. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Gluckman, P., and M. Hanson. 2005. Fetal Matrix: Evolution, development and disease. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Davis, E.P., and C.A. Sandman. 2010. The timing of prenatal exposure to maternal cortisol and psychological stress is associated with human infant cognitive development. Child Development 81(1): 131–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    O'Connor, T.G., Y. Ben-Shlomo, J. Heron, J. Golding, D. Adams, and V. Glover. 2005. Prenatal anxiety predicts individual differences in cortisol in pre-adolescent children. Biological Psychiatry 58: 211–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Van den Bergh, B.R., E.J. Mulder, M. Mennes, and V. Glover. 2005. Antenatal maternal anxiety and stress and the neurobehavioural development of the fetus and child: links and possible mechanisms. A review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 29(2): 237–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Siegel, D.J. 1999. The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are, 21. Guilford: New York.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Schore, A. 1994. Affect regulation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Kochanska, G. 2002. Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: A context for the early development of conscience. Current Directions in Psychological Science 11: 191–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Greenspan, S.I., and S.I. Shanker. 2004. The first idea, 233. Da Capo: Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Morris, R.G.M., E.I. Moser, G. Riedel, et al. 2003. Elements of a neurobiological theory of the hippocampus: The role of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in memory. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B358: 773–786.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Kandel, E.R. 2001. The molecular biology of memory storage: A dialogue between genes and synapses. Science 294(5544): 1030.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Narvaez, D. 2008. Triune ethics: The neurobiological roots of our multiple moralities. New Ideas in Psychology 26: 95–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Narvaez, D. 2009. Triune ethics theory and moral personality. In Personality, identity and character: Explorations in moral psychology, ed. D. Narvaez and D.K. Lapsley, 136–158. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    MacLean, P.D. 1990. The triune brain in evolution: Role in paleocerebral functions. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Moll, J., R. de Oliveira-Souza, P.J. Eslinger, I.E. Bramati, J. Mourao-Miranda, P.A. Andreiulo, et al. 2002. The neural correlates of moral sensitivity: A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of basic and moral emotions. The Journal of Neuroscience 22: 2730–2736.

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Eisler, R., and D.S. Levine. 2002. Nurture, nature, and caring: We are not prisoners of our genes. Brain and Mind 3: 9–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Hart, J., P.R. Shaver, and J.L. Goldenberg. 2005. Attachment, self-esteem, worldviews, and terror management: Evidence for a tripartite security system. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88(6): 999–1013.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Mikulincer, M., P.R. Shaver, O. Gillath, and R.A. Nitzberg. 2005. Attachment, caregiving, and altruism: Boosting attachment security increases compassion and helping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89(5): 817–839.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Ariely, D. 2008. Predictably irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York: HarperCollins.

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Narvaez, D., J. Brooks, and B. Mattan. April, 2011. Attachment-Related Variables Predict Moral Mindset and Moral Action. Society for Research in Child Development.

  33. 33.

    Lewis, T., F. Amini, and R. Lannon. 2000. A general theory of love. New York: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Young, L.J., M.M. Lim, B. Gingrich, and T.R. Insel. 2001. Cellular mechanisms of social attachment. Hormones and Behavior 40: 133–138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Luna, B., K.R. Thulborn, D.P. Munoz, E.P. Merriam, K.E. Garver, N.J. Minshew, M.S. Keshavan, C.R. Genovese, W.F. Eddy, and J.A. Sweeney. 2001. Maturation of widely distributed brain function subserves cognitive development. Neuroimage 13(5): 786–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Damasio, A. 1999. The feeling of what happens. London: Heineman.

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Henry, J.P., and S. Wang. 1998. Effects of early stress on adult affiliative Behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology 23(8): 863–875.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Twenge, J., and R. Campbell. 2009. The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. Free Press.

  39. 39.

    Konrath, S.H., E.H. O’Brien, and C. Hsing. 2011. Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review 15(2): 180–198.

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Thoma, S. J., and M. Bebeau. 2008. Moral Judgment competency is declining over time: Evidence from 20 years of defining issues test data. Paper presented to the American Educational Research Association, New York.

  41. 41.

    de Waal, F. 1996. Good-natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Fry, D.P. 2006. The human potential for peace: An anthropological challenge to assumptions about war and violence. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Everett, D. 2008. Don’t sleep: There are snakes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Dentan, R.K. 1968. The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Deci, E.L., and R.M. Ryan. 1985. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Watson, M., and L. Eckert. 2003. Learning to trust. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Fiske, S.T. 2004. Social beings: A core motives approach to social psychology. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Staub, E. 2003. The Psychology of good and evil: Why children, adults, and groups help and harm others. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Staub, E. 2011. Overcoming evil: Genocide, violent conflict, and terrorism. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Hofer, M.A. 1987. Early social relationships as regulators of infant physiology and behavior. Child Development 58(3): 633–647.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Harlow, H. 1958. The nature of love. The American Psychologist 13: 673–685.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Bowlby, J. 1988. A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Hewlett, B.S., and M.E. Lamb. 2005. Hunter-gatherer childhoods: evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives. New Brunswick: Aldine.

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Hrdy, S. 2009. Mothers and others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. Cambridge: Belknap.

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Narvaez, D., J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. 2012. Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. New York: Oxford University Press. (in press).

    Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Kalin, N.H. 1999. Primate models to understand human aggression. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 60(15): 29–32.

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Schanberg, S. 1995. The genetic basis for touch effects. In Touch in early development, ed. T.A. Field, 67–80. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Weaver, I.C., M. Szyf, and M.J. Meaney. 2002. From maternal care to gene expression: DNA methylation and the maternal programming of stress responses. Endocrine Research 28: 699.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Weaver, I.C., M.J. Meaney, and M. Szyf. 2006. Maternal care effects on the hippocampal transcriptome and anxiety-mediated behaviors in the offspring that are reversible in adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 103(9): 3480–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Kochanska, G., N. Aksan, and A.L. Koenig. 1995. A longitudinal study of the roots of preschoolers’ conscience: Committed compliance and emerging internalization. Child Development 66: 1752–1769.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Lupien, S.J., B.S. McEwen, M.R. Gunnar, and C. Heim. 2009. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience 10(6): 434–445. doi:10.1038/nrn2639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Ansermet, F., and P. Magistretti. 2007. Biology of freedom: Neural plasticity, experience, and the unconscious ( Susan Fairfield). New York: Other Press, p. 5.

  63. 63.

    Bransford, J.D., A.L. Brown, and R.R. Cocking (eds.). 1999. How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Narvaez, D. 2006. Integrative ethical education. In Handbook of moral development, ed. M. Killen and J. Smetana, 703–733. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Narvaez, D. 2007. How cognitive and neurobiological sciences inform values education for creatures like us. In Values education and lifelong learning: Philosophy, policy, practices, ed. D. Aspin, and J. Chapman, 127–159. Springer Press International.

  66. 66.

    Narvaez, D. 2008. Human flourishing and moral development: Cognitive science and neurobiological perspectives on virtue development. In Handbook of moral and character education, ed. L. Nucci and D. Narvaez, 310–327. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Dawkins, R. 1976. The selfish gene, 20. Oxford University Press: New York.

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Samson, R., and R.N. Brandon. 2007. Integrating evolution and development: From theory to practice. Cambridge: MIT.

    Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Smith, K.C., and R. Sanson. 2001. Introductory statement for the ISHPSSB 1999 Evo-Devo sessions., cited in Callebaut, W., Muller, G.B., & Newman, S.A. 2007. The organismic systems approach: Evo-Devo and the streamlining of the naturalistic agenda. In Integrating evolution and development: From theory to practice, eds. R. Sansom, and R.N. Brandon, 44. Cambridge: MIT.

  70. 70.

    Gould, S.J. 2001. The evolutionary definition of selective agency, validation of the theory of hierarchical selection, and fallacy of the selfish gene. In Thinking about evolution, Vol. 2 (pp. 208–234), eds. R.S. Singh et al, 213–214. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  71. 71.

    Williams, G.C. 1966. Adaptation and natural selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Lickliter, R., and C. Harshaw. 2010. Canalization and malleability reconsidered; The developmental basis of phenotypic stability and variability. In Handbook of developmental science, behavior, and genetics, ed. D.E. Hood, C.T. Halpern, G. Greenberg, and R.M. Lerner, 491–525. New York: Blackwell.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  73. 73.

    Maturana, H.R., and F.J. Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and cognition. Dordrecht: Reidel.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  74. 74.

    Schwartz, J.M., and S. Begley. 2002. The mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of mental force. New York: Regan Books.

    Google Scholar 

  75. 75.

    Varela, F. 1999. Ethical know-how: action, wisdom, and cognition. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  76. 76.

    Churchland, P. 1998. Toward a cognitive neurobiology of the emotions. Topoi 17(83–96): 86.

    Google Scholar 

  77. 77.

    Damasio, A. 1994. Descartes’ error. New York: Avon Books.

    Google Scholar 

  78. 78.

    Narvaez, D. 2011. Moral formation: Neurobiology and virtue cultivation. In Character, practical wisdom and professional formation across the disciplines, ed. M. Jones, P. Lewis, and K. Reffitt. Mercer University Press: Macon. (in press).

    Google Scholar 

  79. 79.

    Sternberg, R. 1998. Abilities are forms of developing expertise. Educational Researcher 3: 22–35.

    Google Scholar 

  80. 80.

    Sternberg, R.J. 1999. Intelligence as developing expertise. Contemporary Educational Psychology 24(4): 359–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. 81.

    Narvaez, D. 2011. Moral formation: Neurobiology and virtue cultivation. In Character, practical wisdom and professional formation across the disciplines, ed. M. Jones, P. Lewis, and K. Reffitt. Macon: Mercer University Press. (in press).

  82. 82.

    Narvaez, D. 2005. The Neo-Kohlbergian tradition and beyond: schemas, expertise and character. In Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, Vol. 51: Moral motivation through the lifespan, vol. 51, ed. G. Carlo and C. Pope-Edwards, 119–163. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    Google Scholar 

  83. 83.

    Rest, J. 1983. Morality. In P. Mussen (Eds.) Cognitive development, from J. Flavell and E. Markham (Ed.) Manual of child psychology, Vol. 3 (pp. 556–629). New York: Wiley.

  84. 84.

    Narvaez, D., and J. Rest. 1995. The four components of acting morally. In Moral behavior and moral development: An introduction, ed. W. Kurtines and J. Gewirtz, 385–400. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  85. 85.

    Narvaez, D., and L. Endicott. 2009. Nurturing character in the classroom, EthEx Series, Book 1: Ethical sensitivity. Notre Dame: ACE.

    Google Scholar 

  86. 86.

    Narvaez, D., and T. Bock. 2009. Nurturing character in the classroom, EthEx Series, Book 2: Ethical judgment. Notre Dame: ACE.

    Google Scholar 

  87. 87.

    Narvaez, D., and J. Lies. 2009. Nurturing character in the classroom, EthEx Series, Book 3: Ethical motivation. Notre Dame: ACE.

    Google Scholar 

  88. 88.

    Narvaez, D. 2009. Nurturing character in the classroom, EthEx Series, Book 4: Ethical action. Notre Dame: ACE.

    Google Scholar 

  89. 89.

    Hogarth, R.M. 2001. Educating intuition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  90. 90.

    Derry, S., and A. Lesgold. 1996. Towards a situated social practice model for instructional design. In Handbook of educational psychology, ed. D.C. Berliner and R.C. Calfee, 787–806. New York: Simon Schuster MacMillan.

    Google Scholar 

  91. 91.

    Narvaez, D. 2010. Building a sustaining classroom climate for purposeful ethical citizenship. In International research handbook of values education and student wellbeing, ed. T. Lovat and R. Toomey, 659–674. New York: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  92. 92.

    Trout, J.D. 2009. The empathy gap. New York: Viking/Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  93. 93.

    Narvaez, D., and D.K. Lapsley. 2005. The psychological foundations of everyday morality and moral expertise. In Character psychology and character education, ed. D.K. Lapsley and C. Power, 140–165. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

    Google Scholar 

  94. 94.

    Hatano, G., and K. Inagaki. 1986. Two courses of expertise. In Child development and education in Japan, ed. H. Stevenson, H. Azuma, and K. Hakuta, 262–272. New York: Freeman.

    Google Scholar 

  95. 95.

    Tough, P. 2008. Whatever it takes: Geoffrey Canada’s quest to change Harlem and America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

    Google Scholar 

  96. 96.

    Lapsley, D.K., and D. Narvaez. 2005. Moral psychology at the crossroads. In Character psychology and character education, eds. D.K. Lapsley, and C. Power, 18–35. University of Notre Dame Press.

  97. 97.

    Narvaez, D., D.K. Lapsley, S. Hagele, and B. Lasky. 2006. Moral chronicity and social information processing: Tests of a social cognitive approach to the moral personality. Journal of Research in Personality 40: 966–985.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. 98.

    Rogoff, B. 1990. Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  99. 99.

    Marshall, S.P. 1995. Schemas in problem solving. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  100. 100.

    Narvaez, D., T. Bock, L. Endicott, and J. Lies. 2004. Minnesota’s community voices and character education project. Journal of Research in Character Education 2: 89–112.

    Google Scholar 

  101. 101.

    Langer, E. 1989. Mindfulness. New York: Da Capo.

    Google Scholar 

  102. 102.

    Siegel, D.J. 2010. Mindsight: The new science of transformation. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  103. 103.

    Siegel, R.D. 2010. The mindfulness solution. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  104. 104.

    Langer, E. 2009. Counter-clockwise. New York: Ballatine.

    Google Scholar 

  105. 105.

    Schore, A. 2001. The effects of early relational trauma on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal 22: 201–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. 106.

    Schore, A. 2003. Affect regulation and the repair of the self. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  107. 107.

    Schore, A. 2003. Affect dysregulation and disorders of the self. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  108. 108.

    Gray, P. 2012. The value of a play-filled childhood in development of the hunter-gatherer individual. In Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, eds. D. Narvaez, J., Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason, New York: Oxford University Press. (in press).

  109. 109.

    Narvaez, D. 2011. Development and socialization within an evolutionary context: Growing up to become “A good and useful human being.” In War, peace and human nature: The convergence of evolutionary and cultural views, ed D. Fry, New York: Oxford University Press.

  110. 110.

    Cacioppo, J.T., and W. Patrick. 2008. Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  111. 111.

    Narvaez, D., J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. 2012. The future of human nature: Implications for research, policy, and ethics. In Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, ed. D. Narvaez, J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. New York: Oxford University Press. (in press).

    Google Scholar 

  112. 112.

    Henrich, J., S.J. Heine, and A. Norenzayan. 2010. The weirdest people in the world? Brain and Behavioral Sciences 33: 61–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  113. 113.

    Narvaez, D., and T. Gleason. 2012. Developmental optimization. In Human nature, early experience and the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, ed. D. Narvaez, J. Panksepp, A. Schore, and T. Gleason. New York: Oxford University Press. (in press).

    Google Scholar 

  114. 114.

    Cannell, J.J., B.W. Hollis, M. Zasloff, and R.P. Heaney. 2008. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Expert Opinion Pharmacology 9(1): 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  115. 115.

    Spitz, R. 1947. Grief: A peril in infancy. University Park, PA.

  116. 116.

    Felitti, V.J., and R.F. Anda. 2005. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente.

    Google Scholar 

  117. 117.

    Teicher, M. 2002. Scars that wont heal: The neurobiology of child abuse. Scientific American 286(3): 68–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  118. 118.

    Panksepp, J. 2001. The long-term psychobiological consequences of infant emotions: Prescriptions for the 21st century. Infant Mental Health Journal 22: 132–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  119. 119.

    Dawson, G., S.B. Ashman, and L.J. Carver. 2000. The role of early experience in shaping behavioral and brain development and its implications for social policy. Development and Psychopathology 12: 695–712.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  120. 120.

    Insel, T.J. 1997. A neurobiological basis of social attachment. The American Journal of Psychiatry 154(6): 726–735.

    Google Scholar 

  121. 121.

    Perry, B.D., R.A. Pollard, T.L. Blakely, W.L. Baker, and D. Vigilante. 1995. Childhood trauma, the neurobiology of adaptation, and “use-dependent” development of the brain: How “states” become “traits. Infant Mental Health Journal 16: 271–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  122. 122.

    McKenna, J., and T. McDade. 2005. Why babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews 6(2): 134–152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  123. 123.

    Blunt Bugental, D., G.A. Martorell, and V. Barraza. 2003. The hormonal costs of subtle forms of infant maltreatment. Hormones and Behaviour 43(1): 237–244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  124. 124.

    Morelius, E., E. Theodorsson, and N. Nelson. 2005. Salivary cortisol and mood and pain profiles during skin-to-skin care for an unselected group of mothers and infants in neonatal intensive care. Pediatrics 116: 1105–1113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  125. 125.

    Walker, M. 1993. A fresh look at the risks of artificial infant feeding. Journal of Human Lactation 9(2): 97–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  126. 126.

    Belsky, J. 2001. Developmental risks (still) associated with early child care. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines. Oct, 845–859.

  127. 127.

    Amato, P.R. 2007. The impact of family formation change on the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the next generation. The Future of Children 15(2): 75–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  128. 128.

    Calnen, G. 2007. Paid maternity leave and its impact on breastfeeding in the United States: An historic, economic, political, and social perspective. Breastfeeding Medicine 2(1): 34–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  129. 129.

    Ashman, S.B., G. Dawson, H. Panagiotides, E. Yamada, and C.W. Wilkinson. 2002. Stress hormone levels of children of depressed mothers. Development and Psychopathology 14(10): 333–349.

    Google Scholar 

  130. 130.

    Kertes, D.A., M.R. Gunnar, N.J. Madsen, and J.D. Long. 2008. Early deprivation and home basal cortisol levels: A study of internationally adopted children. Development and Psychopathology 20: 473–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  131. 131.

    Gilmana, S.E., I. Kawachia, G.M. Fitzmauricec, and S.L. Buka. 2002. Socioeconomic status in childhood and the lifetime risk of major depression. International Journal of Epidemiology 31: 359–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  132. 132.

    Coontz, S. 2000. The way we never were: American families and the nostalgia trap. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  133. 133.

    Huxley, A. 1932. Brave new world. London: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Darcia Narvaez.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Narvaez, D. Moral Neuroeducation from Early Life Through the Lifespan. Neuroethics 5, 145–157 (2012).

Download citation


  • Moral development
  • Ethics
  • Child development
  • Expertise
  • Character education
  • Neurobiology