Neuroimaging and antisocial behavior

Authored by: Robert A. Schug , Gianni G. Geraci , Gabriel Marmolejo , Heather L. McLernon , Leidy S. Partida , Alexander J. Roberts

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749

10.4324/9781315858449.ch14

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Abstract

Biosocial approaches to criminology involve, at a very fundamental level, the examination of relationships between brain and behavior. Army medic Cesare Lombroso was the first to apply this concept to criminology, after observing unusual bone formations at the base of the skull of an Italian serial killer during a routine post-mortem examination in 1871. While Lombroso was approaching the problem of crime from an evolutionary biological perspective, his observation nonetheless became the cornerstone for an empirical understanding of the link between brain structure (in this case, the size of a specific brain region) and crime, antisociality, and violence. Fortunately, the scalpels, saws, and cutting instruments of the late-nineteenth-century autopsy surgeon have now been replaced with new tools for opening the human skull and examining the contents within—X-rays, radioactive tracer compounds, and magnetic resonance pulse signals. These exciting new tools have allowed researchers to examine the brains of living individuals (a luxury Lombroso did not have). While the technology has changed dramatically, the conceptual research question remains largely the same: Do differences in the size, shape, and functioning of different brain regions lead to—or at the very least relate to—criminal and antisocial behavior?

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