In what sounds like the setup for a bad “psychological thriller” movie, neuroscientist James Fallon discovered that his brain fits the profile of a psychopath’s: low activity in the orbital cortex.
“You see that? I’m 100 percent. I have the pattern, the risky pattern,” he says, then pauses. “In a sense, I’m a born killer.”
Fallon’s being tongue-in-cheek — sort of. He doesn’t believe his fate or anyone else’s is entirely determined by genes. They merely tip you in one direction or another.
And yet: “When I put the two together, it was frankly a little disturbing,” Fallon says with a laugh. “You start to look at yourself and you say, ‘I may be a sociopath.’ I don’t think I am, but this looks exactly like [the brains of] the psychopaths, the sociopaths, that I’ve seen before.”
I asked his wife, Diane, what she thought of the result.
“I wasn’t too concerned,” she says, laughing. “I mean, I’ve known him since I was 12.”
Diane probably does not need to worry, according to scientists who study this area. They believe that brain patterns and genetic makeup are not enough to make anyone a psychopath. You need a third ingredient: abuse or violence in one’s childhood.
NPR: A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret
(via Cat Vincent)
A sobering reminder of why “neuroscanning” for criminals/terrorists/whatever in airports or elsewehre is a problematic idea.
July 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm
ha, i was waiting for this one! an “oh yeah” moment from a neuroscientist on the failings of materialism. 200% agreement with your assessment on the potential problems of instigating this tech – as is. I was just in an airport the other day and was just thinking about details of potential terrorist hit around me. I then thought if running these vivid scenarios in my brain would be enough to set off an alarm and so initiating a strip search that would be more of bummer than my hangover.