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Neurosciences applied to the criminological study of crime

Neurosciences applied to the criminological study of crime

October 28, 2020

The human brain is something so complex and (almost) perfect that since the time of Hippocrates has been a source of curiosity. With the advance of science and technology, the neurosciences have been gradually solving the enigmas of the wonderful human brain trying to explain the why of human behavior, including phenomena as complex as it is crime.

Why do you commit a crime? What causes motivate you to transgress the rules? Why does not the idea of ​​being punished by the law frighten you? How we share you in a recent article, criminology is the science that aims to respond to the previous questions having as an object of study the antisocial behavior, which is that which lashes and goes against the common good. But to study crime and antisocial behavior, Criminology is supported by various sciences and disciplines, among which the aforementioned neurosciences stand out .


Studies to the brain of criminals

One of the most famous cases that have been studied in neurology focused on criminological purposes, and which put in check concepts such as free will of the offender and concepts such as idol and the guilt dates back to 2003. In that year, a 40-year-old man who had never presented behavioral disorders of sexuality was previously sentenced for sexual harassment of minors .

The biological causes of antisocial behavior

A brain resonance in the subject showed a hemangiopericytoma in the orbitofrontal region that, after being removed, caused the pedophilic symptoms to vanish, so he was granted freedom. It was up to a year later that the fixation on minors began to be born again. After making a new resonance it was observed that the tumor had appeared again and once again, after being operated on, the symptoms disappeared.


More studies that relate brain dysfunction to antisocial personality disorder

Research that has been the subject of debate headed by the American Neuroscience Society they suggest that there are deficits in specific brain structures that include areas related to empathy, fear of punishment and ethics among those who manifest antisocial personality disorder.

Similar studies have been presented by Adrian Rayne, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. This professor carried out an interesting study with 792 murderers with antisocial personality disorder, discovering that his cerebral prefrontal cortex was significantly smaller in relation to another group that did not have antisocial disorder . As if this disdain were not enough, it was also discovered that these individuals tend to present damage to brain structures linked to the ability to make moral judgments. These regions were the amygdala and the angular gyrus.


Endocrinology to the aid of criminology

Criminology has become increasingly interested in how the endocrine glands relate to criminal behavior . For example: we know that in a situation of danger we can react by paralyzing, fleeing or attacking. From the first option we know that it is the cortisol mainly responsible for transmitting this stress response, however in relation to the last two is the adrenalin the one in charge of preparing the body for these reactions.

It is known with certainty that if an individual presents some dysfunction (for example, following a trauma) that leads the adrenal glands of the individual to a higher production of adrenaline, the subject will have a special tendency to carry out aggressive behaviors, as they could be violent crimes and against physical integrity . Regarding sexual delinquency, other studies conducted in the United States have shown that inmates who committed violent sexual crimes show high levels of testosterone in their body in relation to the rest of the prison population.

Eynseck and the theory of the excitement of psychological types

Hans Eynseck Maintains that the nervous system of extroverts and introverts tends to one of two fundamental characteristics : the excitation and inhibition affirming that the so-called extroverts are predisposed to inhibition while the introverts to excitement, that is why the activities between each type are usually compensatory to their predisposition to stimuli.

For example, being an introvert more easily excitable, will tend to look for not so urgent stimuli and with it quieter and lonely activities ; while the extrovert will need to seek the stimulus given its natural inhibition. In his theory he states that extraverts tend to be more inclined to criminality because they are frequently in search of exciting stimuli, but when an introvert gives way to the act, he can commit more serious crimes. Besides noticing a tendency of the extroverted by sadism and psychopathy while the introvert tends to masochism and autism.

Are criminals born or made?

In the face of the eternal debate between sociologists, psychologists, biologists and other specialists in human behavior, criminology has opted to resolve this issue by lowering the resolution that the offender is a product of both the predisposition of their psychophysiological, genetic and individual characteristics and of the interaction between the social environment, the anomie, the culture, the education, among others .

Therefore, to say that a specific neurobiological damage was the definitive cause of the commission of a crime would be not only brief but also inconclusive, since the subject needs a wide range of factors to consummate the crime , besides opportunity, mobile, etc. It is the job of criminology to detect how much "force" presents a criminoimpelente neurological factor to have been the cause of crime, in conjunction with the neurosciences that day by day reveal little by little the secrets of the nervous system and the human brain.


6. Dr. Adrian Raine, Penn Media Seminar on Neuroscience and Society (October 2020).


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