The Violent Brain
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 15, 2013
The anterior cingulate cortex(ACC) fires, giving the person a feeling for what others experience, otherwise known as empathy. It stands to reason that those who have an ACC which fires with more intensity are going to have a greater sense for what others experience. So, the researchers from Kent Kiehl’s laboratory found that when scanning violent inmates, those with low ACC firing are more likely to be repeat offenders. As Michael Haederle reported in today’s LA Times…
“The trove of data they have gathered has revealed telltale abnormalities in the structure and functioning of psychopaths’ brains. On the whole, they have
less gray matter in the paralimbic system — believed to help regulate emotion — which may help account for their characteristic glibness, pathological lying,
lack of empathy and tendency to act impulsively.”
The nature/nurture argument returns. Empathy and impulsivity seem to be largely innate qualities, such that if we can measure brain activity in convicted criminals, we would get a better sense of a person’s predisposition towards further heinous crimes. Yes, this is not perfect, and so biological data can be used to convict criminals who should be given a second chance. However, this does not mean that further exploration about how brain activity predicts behavior should not be done. In other words, this report is an exciting development in understanding how brain function influences judgment.