Sunday, January 03, 2010

Are people born criminals?

Today's Si Valley paper reports:
Research: Criminal behavior may be hard-wired

Increasing evidence from neuroscience suggests that many aspects of antisocial 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 antisocial and psychopathic behavior have also been linked to a greater risk of arrests and convictions. ...

In the early 1970s, they traveled to the island nation of Mauritius, off the eastern coast of Africa. ...

The test involved a series of 12 tones. Some of them were pleasant. Others were higher-pitched and were followed by a jarring sound produced by "jangling metal objects," according to a report in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

The children were hooked up to a polygraph to measure their reactions to the noises. The high-pitched tones were supposed to make them sweat in anticipation of the unpleasant sound, while the pleasant tones weren't supposed to elicit much response.

Twenty years later, the researchers scoured court records to see whether any of their subjects had committed crimes involving violence, drugs, property or serious driving offenses. ...

The results suggest that criminal behavior may be hard-wired — to some degree — in children as young as 3 and could be the result of a malfunctioning amygdala, the researchers wrote. If they're not afraid that their criminal behavior will land them in jail, what else will deter them? The result, they wrote, is "a lack of conscience."
The web site dates this story Jan. 1, but also has the same story dated 11/25/2009. The source is a November 17, 2009 LA Times story.

It's okay, I missed this story the first couple of times. I missed it in the 1970s also. The story is a little fishy, tho. Why did they have to goto Mauritius? If this was such great 1970s research, has it been replicated? I don't know anything about Mauritius. Are babies baptized there? Are they taught right from wrong?

No comments: