The Neurobiology of Criminal Behavior: Gene-Brain-Culture Interaction

The Neurobiology of Criminal Behavior: Gene-Brain-Culture Interaction

The Neurobiology of Criminal Behavior: Gene-Brain-Culture Interaction

The Neurobiology of Criminal Behavior: Gene-Brain-Culture Interaction

Synopsis

The main feature of this work is that it explores criminal behavior from all aspects of Tinbergen's Four Questions. Rather than focusing on a single theoretical point of view, this book examines the neurobiology of crime from a biosocial perspective. It suggests that it is necessary to understand some genetics and neuroscience in order to appreciate and apply relevant concepts to criminological issues. Presenting up-to-date information on the circuitry of the brain, the authors explore and examine a variety of characteristics, traits and behavioral syndromes related to criminal behavior such as ADHD, intelligence, gender, the age-crime curve, schizophrenia, psychopathy, violence and substance abuse. This book brings together the sociological tradition with the latest knowledge the neurosciences have to offer and conveys biological information in an accessible and understanding way. It will be of interest to scholars in the field and to professional criminologists.

Excerpt

The past decade has witnessed a subtle revolution in the study of crime. Criminology has moved, albeit slowly, from a widespread denial that biology plays any role in antisocial and criminal behavior to recognizing that, at a minimum, human beings are biological and social animals. Today, new research findings linking biology to behavior appear daily, challenging the outdated notion that human beings are merely passive recipients of socialization and culture, and sweeping away the powerful ideologies that led criminologists to a state of denial in the first place. Yet this new awareness remains precarious as old ideas and ideologies threaten to erase recent empirical and theoretical gains. Fortunately, Walsh and Bolen’s book holds not only the promise to advance future criminological inquiry, but also stands as a testament to the power of science to vanquish conjecture, ideology, and dogmatism.

Much has been made about the capacity of the human brain to simultaneously perform a variety of complex actions. The thousands of miles of neural networks and their infinite complexity receive input from our senses, store this information, and recall the information when appropriate—all while coordinating all lifesustaining activities. But the brain is not merely an information processing machine. It is, after all, the brain that allows us to make decisions, to control our emotional instincts, to plan for our future, to contemplate the meaning of poetry and prose, and to feel joy at the sight of a newborn child. In short, it is the brain that makes us human, and it is the brain that has allowed, and maybe even encouraged, our humanity. The great neuroscientist Elkhonon Goldberg, for example, argues that human civilizations were able to form and to prosper because of the remarkable capacities found in the modern brain.

The brain has been subject to millions of years of evolution and selection. During most of our evolutionary history violence and warfare appear to have been common, as were sex roles that are still visible in hunter/gatherer societies today. Evolutionary processes favor adaptations that increase survival and reproductive chances over time. Under strong evolutionary pressures, the brains of men and women evolved in slightly different fashion. It is no accident, for example, that in every culture at every point in history men, and not women, have been the sex to engage in warfare, violence, and crime. And it is no accident that in every culture women have been primarily responsible for the care of offspring. Still, contemporary explanations for this indelible pattern range from the absurd to the patently false. Thankfully, Walsh and Bolen tackle this subject pointing out what has been lost in political discussions of the rights of women and men—that is, that men and women are fundamentally different.

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