“Criminal Minds — Will testing the brain, even before birth, separate the good seeds from the bad?”

More Adrian Raine.

. . . a series of studies using magnetic resonance imaging, which reveals structures and shapes, showed that criminals and people who scored high on tests of antisocial disorders had a smaller than normal orbitofrontal region and amygdala. And the corpus callosum, the communications bridge between the brain’s two hemispheres, was abnormally large.

. . . [Adrian Raine] needed to go back even further and look for a defect that begins before birth and can still be detected in adults. Raine found it in a hole in the head. More precisely, a thin wall of brain tissue that separates a hole—all brains have these spaces—into two. The hole appears during the 12th week of a fetus’s development, and the wall—pushed forward by a normally developing amygdala and other brain areas—divides it by the 20th week. When the wall doesn’t form completely, a condition known by the jawbreaking name of cavum septum pellucidum, it’s usually a sign of abnormal development in the amygdala and other structures. Years later, in adults, the failed wall can be spotted in a brain scan.

In a 2010 paper, Raine and his colleagues compared people with and without the feature on several fronts. The groups were tested for antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and aggression. Their records were searched for criminal arrests and convictions. In every single one of those areas, there were a lot more men and women with the wall defect. Here, finally, was evidence tracing criminality back to the womb, before any head-banging could occur.

“I think there’s no longer any question, scientifically, that there’s an association between the brain and criminal behavior. We’re beyond the point of debating that,” says Raine. “Every study can be criticized on methodology. But when you look at the whole, at all the different designs, it’s just hard to deny there is something going on with biology.”

3 thoughts on ““Criminal Minds — Will testing the brain, even before birth, separate the good seeds from the bad?”

  1. Pingback: Bioshock

  2. A typical time for abusive husbands to increase their abuse, is at their wives’ most vulnerable times, like when she is pregnant. I know a woman who got her worst beating from her husband, during this time. This was in the 1950s, when women had little financial independence. Being physically abused by the father of your children, creates a huge surge of toxic stress hormones to cascade through the body. (The crescendoes of physical abuse are just the tip of the iceberg of the insidious verbal abuse towards the wife/mother and the other children. The abuse is chronic.) These stress hormones negatively affect the developing fetus, including the brain development. And so, domestic violence perpetrated by the husband on his pregnant wife, can be the initial domino, in creating the future sociopath. Therefore domestic abusers need to be held fully accountable, in order to mitigate their creating the next generation of sociopaths.


  3. However cavum septum pellucidum is previously associated with childhood onset schizophrenia and more controversially as a marker for susceptibility to post traumatic stress disorder. Its role in psychiatric disorders and illnesses is poorly understood.


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