Brain lesions in specific parts of the brain can push an individual into committing crimes if they are involved in moral decision-making, according to a new study.
The paper that was published in the journal, National Academy of Sciences, is the first systemic mapping of brain lesions associated with criminal behavior.
“Our lab has developed a new technique for understanding neuropsychiatric symptoms based on focal brain lesions and a wiring diagram of the human brain,” said Dr. Michael Fox, senior author of the study and Associate Director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
According to Fox, his team of researchers has applied this technique to a number of psychological processes including hallucinations, delusions, involuntary movements, and, last but not least, criminality.
The researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center carried out a number of tests on two separate groups of 17 and 23 participants respectively. Brain activities of all participants were monitored throughout the study with specific monitoring devices. Researchers then examined the CT and MRI scans of the individuals.
The 17 people in the first group displayed a conclusive link between criminal behavior and a brain lesion. In the second group of 23 people, researchers have implied a correlation between the two when they did not know whether the brain lesion occurred before or after the criminal behavior.
Both groups had brain lesions in different areas of the brain. The researchers then compared the brain scans of both groups to a series of comprehensive datasets compiled from healthy volunteers. The results revealed that the brain lesions were involved in the same brain network involving morality, regardless of the brain area affected by the lesion.
Ryan Darby, an assistant professor at VUMC, states that the lesions affected networks that are responsible for morality and value-based decision making.
While the results seem to link criminal behavior to brain lesions directly, not all participants displayed deviant behavior.
The market research firm, Coherent Market Insights, published a Brain Monitoring Market report in which they state that brain monitoring devices can be used to detect and observe brain lesions and ailments associated with brain disorders. According to the report, there are other factors that determine criminal behavior in an individual such as genetic, environmental, and social factors.
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