FORENSICS - Biological theories of offending - neural explanation

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  • Neural explanation for offending
    • Brain anatomy
      • lots of anecdotal evidence for brain injury and violent behaviour
      • Ulrike Meinhoff (leader of a Red Army Faction) - surgery for brain tumour led to personality change, according to ex husband
      • Charles Whitman - Texas killer 1996 - tumour on amygdala
      • Aaron Hernandez - had C.T.E after clashing heads numerous times during football
      • William (2012) - 60% of youth offenders reported brain injury - causal - due to recklessness?
    • Brain structure
      • ASPD has been much researched
      • Raine (2000) - 21 individs against matched controls and found:
        • abnormalities in limbic system, including amygdala (suggesting inability to detect / respond to fear in victims) - psychopath test by Jon Ronson
        • reduced prefrontal cortex - issues with decision making
        • Kent (2001) - used fMRI to monitor brain activity during an emotion based task; ASPD show less limbic system and more frontal lobe activity - less emotion and more planning and control
    • Neurotransmitters
      • increased noradrenaline - altered stress response may make offenders more likely to respond aggressively
        • more likely to respond in a stressful way than normal people
      • low serotonin - linked to high aggression
      • dopamine disruptions - a) link to addiction, b) offending behaviour may be rewarding - evolutionary
    • Evaluation (A03)
      • cause and effect - neurotransmitters / brain structure = cause or actually an intervening variable
        • research only shows correlation between brain injuries and later criminality BUT it could be someone who is a risk taker is more likely to get a head injury
      • real world app - could lead to possible treatment methods
      • biochemical explanations are more relevant to everyday life
      • explanations are reductionist - simplifying criminal behaviour
      • Krakowski (2003) - to make a casual link between serotonin and violent behav is too difficult. It depends on individ diffs and social context of behav.
    • Hormonal
      • testosterone - linked to aggressive acts
        • more testos = more aggressive sports
        • Wagner (1979) - castrated mice -> aggression reduced. Testosterone given to mice -> aggression increases. Causal evidence for role of testos in aggression, fits pattern of more male offenders


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