Disorders of Emotion: Violence

Adrian Raine, PhD, USC

The past decade has witnessed an exponential increase in brain imaging research on violent offenders which has documented significant structural and functional brain impairments in this group related to anger regulation, moral decision-making, and fearlessness. These findings are in turn raising significant neuroethical issues that impact society and the criminal justice system, focused on responsibility, freedom of will, and punishment. This session highlights these issues by presenting a case study of the brutal rape and murder of a young Caucasian woman by a young African-American man, and the use of brain imaging assessment on the defendant to “excuse” his actions. The case study is set against a brief review of what we have learnt so far about from neurobiological research on how emotion is disordered in violent and psychopathic offenders.

The 2007 Conference