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Brain scans to predict future criminal behavior

By Eko Armunanto     Mar 30, 2013 in Science
Increasing evidence from neuroscience studies suggests that many aspects of anti-social behavior can be traced to dysfunctional brains.
For instance, brain scans of prisoners suggest the circuitry involved in fear conditioning has gone awry in criminal minds. Deformities of certain parts of the brain that may contribute to anti-social and psychopathic behavior have also been linked to a greater risk of arrests and convictions.
Criminal behavior is affected by cognition to moderate extent. Some psychologists claim that behavior of a criminal is a result of variety types of theories based on cognitive factors. They proposed that the behavior is the outcome of reasoned decision-making process. They assumed that criminals seek to benefit from the crimes they commit.
A recent study entitled “Neuroprediction of Future Rearrest” suggests people who reoffended were much more likely to have lower activity in the Anterior Cingulate Cortices (ACC) than those who had higher functioning ACC – a portion of the brain that deals with regulating behavior and impulsivity.
"Not only does this study give us a tool to predict which criminals may reoffend and which ones will not reoffend, it also provides a path forward for steering offenders into more effective targeted therapies to reduce the risk of future criminal activity." said Dr. Kent A. Kiehl, a senior author on the study, the director of mobile imaging at MRN, and an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico.
The study looked at 96 adult male criminal offenders aged 20-52 who volunteered to participate in research studies. This study population was followed over a period of up to four years after inmates were released from prison.
The anterior cingulate cortex of the brain is associated with error processing, conflict monitoring, response selection, and avoidance learning. People who have this area of the brain damaged have been shown to produce changes in disinhibition, apathy, and aggressiveness. Indeed, ACC-damaged patients have been classed in the “acquired psychopathic personality” genre. Dr. Kiehl says he is working on developing treatments that increase activity within the ACC to attempt to treat the high-risk offenders.
More about Brain scan, Brain, criminal minds