Brain Lesions and Criminal Behavior Linked to Moral Decision-Making Network
When brain lesions occur within the brain network responsible for morality and value-based decision-making, they can predispose a person toward criminal behavior, according to new research by Ryan Darby, MD, assistant professor of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).
The study is the first systemic mapping of brain lesions associated with criminal behavior, a medical phenomena referred to as acquired sociopathy.
Darby did the research during a fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Famous cases of acquired sociopathy include Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who in 1848 exhibited anti-social behavior after surviving an explosive blast that sent an iron rod through his brain, and Charles Whitman, the “Texas Tower Sniper,” who had a brain tumor and murdered 16 people in 1966.
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