The Genetic and Neural explanation of Criminal Behaviour

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  • The Genetic and Neural explanation of Criminal Behaviour.
    • Genetic
      • Suggests that criminal behaviour is inherited and caused by a gene or combination of genes. Which give a predisposition to commit crime.
        • Twin Studies suggest that genes play a role in criminal behaviour.  Christiansen used a sample of 3,586 twins and found a concordance rate of 33% in MZ and 12% in DZ.
          • Suggesting that there is a genetic link.
          • Another twin study done  by Raine et al 13 twin studies we reviewed and found overall concordance rate of 52% in MZ and 21% in DZ.
      • Candidate genes
        • Tihonen et al- said that abnormalities on 2 genes are associated with violent crimes.
          • The MAOA gene which is linked to aggression.
          • CDH13 whish is associated to substance abuse.
          • Finnish sample to investigate. Found that individuals risk combination-tion were 13 times more likely to have had a history with violent behaviour.
    • Neural
      • Suggests that there are differences in the brains of criminals and non- criminals. There is evidence that individuals diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorder- APD have less emotional responses and lack empathy.
      • Prefrontal Cortex and the Limbic System.
        • Raine investigated the differences in brains of murderers and non-murderers, 41 violent and 41 non- violent. PET Scans were used. They found differences in the prefrontal cortex, limbic system and the amygdala.  these areas regulate emotions. when the amygdala is underactive or too aroused it is likely to result in criminal behaviour.
      • Biochemistry
        • Serotonin regulates mood and impulse control, Low levels lead to impulsivity. High levels lead to more aggression and impulsivity
          • Davidson found that violent criminals had lower levels of serotonin compered to non-violent criminals.
    • Evaluation
      • Issue with investigating brain research.
        • The sample size is often small. As the scanning techniques are time consuming and expensive they are hard to access so only few harry them out. That means that the results can't generalise to the wider population. Reducing support.
      • Causation
        • It is not possible to conclude that abnormalities are caused by biology or (substance) abuse. The support is reduced.
      • Twin Studies
        • Genetic transmission can explain partly why there are high concordance rates. BUT MZ&DZ twins often are sharing the same environment and are treated similarly, especially MZ twins, cannot separate Nature and Nurture.
      • Biological Reductionism
        • Criminality is complex, so reducing it down so just a genetic/neural explanation is being overly simplistic. Also it is difficult to separate the effects of neural & genes from other possible factors.
      • Diathesis- stress Model
        • Mednick eta al found from an investigation of 13,000 Danish adoptees that when neither parent had convictions- 13.5% adoptees had a conviction. 20% when the biological parents had. 24.5% when both parents had. This suggests that genetic inheritance does play a role but the environment also has an influence.


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