Neurophysiological Conditions and Crime

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Neurophysiological Conditions and Crime

Neurophysiology- Is the study of brain activity

Some researchers believe that neurological and physical abnormalities acquired as early as the fetal stage can determine the behaviour of someone throughout their life.

Key Concepts

Case Study- Charles Whitman

  • First reviewed in 1968
  • Killed his wife and mother
  • Barricaded himself in a tower at a university with a rifle
  • Killed another 14, and injured 24 before being killed by police
  • Autopsy revealed a malignant tumor
  • Had previously experienced uncontrollable urges to kill
  • He kept notes documenting feelings and his inability to control his urges
  • He left instructions for his estate to be given to the mental health foundation upon his death
  • Since his case, more research has been put into the study of Neurophysiology and crime

*High levels of abnormal E.E.G recordings found in violent criminals than non-violent persons *

M.B.D. (Minimal Brain Dysfunction)

M.B.D- Is any abruptly appearing, maladaptive behaviour, such as episodic periods of explosive rage.

Key Concepts

  • Related to an abnormal cerebral structure
  • M.B.D. is an important cause of behaviour related to spousal/child abuse, suicide, aggression, and motiveless homicide
  • Often there is normal behaviours between episodes
  • 60 % of the offender population shows minimal brain dysfunction
  • Brain scanning techniques such as P.E.T.S show that brain abnormalities are related to violence

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D)

A.D.H.D- Is a lack of mental development that causes poor attention skills with impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Key Concepts

  • 30 % of children, mostly boys are diagnosed
  • In direct correlation with poor school performance resulting in the placement into a special needs class
  • Bullying and lack of response to discipline
  • Origin is currently unknown
  • Some suspected causes: Neurological damage, pre-natal stress, and even reactions to food additives where a chemical allergies is present
  • Genetically linked
  • Links to family problems such as divorce, domestic violence, ET el…
  • Mostly treated with Ritalin

Brain Chemistry and Crime

Suggested that prenatal exposure of the brain to high levels of androgens results in a brain structure that is less sensitive to environmental inputs.

Key Concepts

  • Individuals with a low supply of enzymes such as M.A.O tend to engage in violence, property crime, and are shown to have a general defiance of punishment.
  • Poor academic performance that is coupled with impulsivity and hyperactivity
  • Sensation seeking and risk taking

Arousal theory

Arousal theory- Is the view that people seek to maintain a “preferred level of arousal”, but vary in how they process sensory input.

Key Concepts

  • Related to genetics
  • Each and everyone’s brain differs in response to the world around them
  • All of us prefer some level of arousal, but too much can create anxiety and stress
  • Too little arousal makes you feel bored and weary
  • There is a latter group of individuals known as “sensation seekers”, who look for stimulating activities, which may include aggressive and violent behaviour
  • Arousal theory isn’t fully understood
  • Some suspected sources include brain chemistry (Serotonin levels), brain structure, or even some brains that contain more neurotransmitters that house receptor sites
  • One view is that people with low heart rates are more likely to commit crime strictly for the thrill of it
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