Study Shows Brain Scans Might Predict Future Criminal Behavior

A new study conducted by The Mind Research Network (MRN) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, together with collaborators at Duke University, the University of New Mexico, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the University of California-Santa Barbara, shows that neuroimaging data can predict the likelihood of whether a criminal will reoffend following release from prison. The paper, which was published online on March 27, 2013 in PNAS, studied impulsive and antisocial behavior and centered on the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that deals with regulating behavior and impulsivity. The study demonstrated that inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were twice as likely to reoffend than inmates with high-brain activity in this region. "These findings have incredibly significant ramifications for the future of how our society deals with criminal justice and offenders," said Dr. Kent A. Kiehl, who was senior author on the study and is director of mobile imaging at MRN and an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico. "Not only does this study give us a tool to predict which criminals may reoffend and which ones will not reoffend, it also provides a path forward for steering offenders into more effective targeted therapies to reduce the risk of future criminal activity." The study looked at 96 adult male criminal offenders aged 20-52 who volunteered to participate in research studies. This study population was followed over a period of up to four years after inmates were released from prison. "These results point the way toward a promising method of neuroprediction with great practical potential in the legal system," said Dr.
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