My opinion: As much as I like these advancements, there are still many issues that need to be resolved. First of all, the obvious is that this study must be compared to others to see if there are correlations between research groups. Second, it may be a good idea to attempt to classify the types of crimes that the subjects are most likely to commit, as well as their severity. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we need to figure out how these people can get help. Without this last factor, the brain scans are meaningless. Also, I think this is a good step to figuring out which people are high-profile murderers, but it may require the researchers to study other parts of the brain as well. Since there are so few of these people who are available for study (since many die in the process), maybe researchers can try to compare them to a larger number of similar criminals. Any other thoughts for progressing this research? Feel free to comment.
Brain scans may show which criminals are more likely to continue life of crime
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on March 27 revealed that convicts with low-activity in an area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) were more likely to be arrested again.
The ACC is a small area in the front of the brain that controls motor function and executive functioning, which are skills required for planning, organization and self-control. Researchers looked at 96 male prisoners right before they were released. The subjects' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they were instructed to do computer tasks where they had to make quick decisions and rely on their impulses. Then, the researchers followed the subjects for four years.
Men who had lower ACC activity had a 2.6 times higher rate of rearrest for all crimes and a 4.3 times higher rate arrest for non-violent crimes.
The authors, however, said that the method isn't reliable for predicting crimes, warning that scanning brains might only mark high-risk felons, leaving the majority of low-risk ones alone. Also, the test hasn't been compared to other written tasks that have been created to try and determine the likelihood a person will commit a crime again. The researchers have scanned 3,000 inmates in New Mexico state prisons and hope to expand their tests.