Advisory Board

Dr. Liane Lee Young

The ScienceDaily article Exploring The Mechanics Of Judgment, Beliefs: Technique Images Brain Activity When We Think Of Others said

How do we know what other people are thinking? How do we judge them, and what happens in our brains when we do?
MIT neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe is tackling those tough questions and many others. Her goal is no less than understanding how the brain gives rise to the abilities that make us uniquely human — making moral judgments, developing belief systems and understanding language.
Saxe earned her PhD from MIT in 2003, and recently her first graduate student, Liane Young, successfully defended her PhD thesis. That extends a direct line of female brain and cognitive scientists at MIT that started with Molly Potter, professor of psychology, who advised Kanwisher who then advised Saxe.

Liane Lee Young, Ph.D. is post-doctoral fellow at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Liane is intrigued by how people (philosophers, bioethicists, and regular folk) make moral judgments in the first place. Is moral judgment accomplished by reason or intuition? To what extent does emotion play a role? How does theory of mind (the capacity to represent the mental states of others) fit into the picture?
Her current research on the neural basis of human moral judgment employs methods of cognitive neuroscience: functional neuroimaging (fMRI) at MIT with Rebecca Saxe, studying patient populations with selective cognitive deficits (e.g. in theory of mind or emotional processing), and modulating activity in specific brain areas by applying magnetic pulses to the scalp (using transcranial magnetic stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with Alvaro Pascual-Leone).
Liane coauthored The neural basis of the interaction between theory of mind and moral judgment, Does emotion mediate the relationship between an action? moral status and its intentional status? Neuropsychological evidence, The Role of Conscious Reasoning and Intuition in Moral Judgment, Reviving Rawls’ Linguistic Analogy: Operative Principles and the Causal Structure of Moral Actions, The neural basis of belief encoding and integration in moral judgment, Investigating emotion in moral cognition: a review of evidence from functional neuroimaging and neuropsychology, and A Dissociation Between Moral Judgments and Justifications. Read the full list of her publications!
Liane earned her B.A. in Philosophy (Magma Cum Laude) in the Mind, Brain and Behavior Program at Harvard College in 2004. She earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at Harvard University in 2008.
Read Scientists Draw Link Between Morality And Brain’s Wiring.