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Physical brain development and the likelihood of crime

When people are accused of crimes, many different factors may come into play, such as their family life, upbringing and social circles. Everyone is different, of course, so these are simply a few common examples. However, one study suggests that a huge contributing factor could be one the person has no control over: the physical development of his or her brain.

The part of the brain specifically being implicated is the amygdala. It helps to influence things like social interactions, aggression and fear.

A doctor at the University of Pittsburgh ran a neuroimaging study to examine the brains of numerous individuals. He looked specifically at men who were 26 years old, helping to rule out other factors.

What he discovered was that men who had lower amygdala volumes were startlingly more likely to be both violent and aggressive. When compared to men with normal-sized amygdalas, they were about three times more likely to show these traits. They were also three times as likely to display psychopathic traits.

What makes this very interesting is that other factors, like social background and a history of violent behavior, didn't change the statistics. Men with smaller amygdalas simply appeared in most cases to be far more likely to display the type of behavior that could lead to a criminal charge.

Experts do note that biology doesn't mean a person is fated to commit crimes, as there are things that can be done -- such as dietary changes -- that can help. However, it is still very important for those who have been accused of crimes to know all of their legal options.

Source: American Psycological Association, "The criminal mind," Anna Miller, accessed March 03, 2017

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