NPR radio explores the criminal brain in this three-part series of reports.
Part One: A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret
James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine, believes that psychopathic tendencies may be passed through the DNA of family members and that upbringing can determine if the tendencies get triggered.
Part Two: Inside A Psychopath’s Brain: The Sentencing Debate
Kent Kiehl, a professor at the University of New Mexico, reports that some psychopaths are born with certain parts of their brain not working like the brains of non-psychopaths. For example, their emotional circuit does not engage in the same way as non-psychopaths and therefore what they do is not necessarily their fault. Brain scans that show these differences in the brain are being used in the court room more and more, and may be taken into consideration at sentencing.
Part Three: Can Your Genes Make You Murder?
At the trial of Bradley Waldroup, a Tennessee man who murdered his wife’s friend, the fact that Waldroup had what’s called the “warrior gene” became an important part of the defense strategy. There was no queston Waldroup did what he did. So his attorney, Wylie Richardson, built his case on “why” he did what he did. He chose to incorporate neurolaw into his defense strategy by having Waldroup’s DNA tested. They were looking for a particular variant of the MAO-A gene — also known as the warrior gene, because it has been associated with violence. The strategy paid off.
Inside the criminal brain, on NPR.org.