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Serial Killers: A Different Brain Essay

1631 words - 7 pages

Serial killers have captivated the attention of scientists from the first signs of their existence to modern day. Interested by these killers’ inhumane actions, researchers set out to determine the cause of such graphic, horrific crimes. The brain has been brought into question regarding the motivation of these cold blooded killers. After extensive research, abnormalities of both the chemical composition and material makeup have been identified within the brains of numerous serial killers. These differences are more than mere coincidence, they are evidence that killers do not think in the same way. The killers’ drives and motives are irregular, just as their brains are. Not only are these ...view middle of the document...

Without the mass of gray matter most humans have, these killers are left without the same functions of the brain. Instead, those with lesser amounts of the gray matter do not have the emotional abilities that those with a normal amount of matter do leaving them less emotionally stable and more prone to viciousness and other harmful behaviors.
However, gray matter is not the only source of emotional function within humans. The para-limbic system is also biologically linked to emotional control. This para-limbic system is the housing unit of both the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex, two of the most crucial areas within the brain when it comes down to emotions (Taylor). The criminal brain reveals, “when shown violent images, which cause a change in brain activity when shown to humans, studies show that murderous criminals show very little activity in these areas” (Taylor). This lack of activity is a keen example of the change in brain function of criminals.
The amygdala, single from other areas, is an important area of the brain to consider. The amygdala is the center of aggression regulation (Bradley Hagerty). It is located in the orbital complex just behind the eyes (Bradley Hagerty). Distortions in the amygdala commonly show up on scans of serial killers’ brains. These distortions appear as dark matter within the complex. Along with the dark matter, low density is recognized within the scans. It is obvious that serial killers do not have a control over their aggressions, just as these traits are shown in the killers’ scans. Distortions in the amygdala lead to increased violent behaviors, which in turn can and often times do, lead to murder. It is unreasonable to ignore the correlation between the lack of density and dark patches within the amygdala to the likelihood of these traits being in the brains of a chain murderer.
Although, the amygdala in killers is not the only portion of the brain with discrepancies; the prefrontal cortex within serial killers should also be taken a closer look at. The prefrontal cortex of the brain functions to provide natural social interactions from human to human, as well as the ability to differentiate between good and bad decisions. If this area of the brain was not functioning at the rate it does in an average person, the likelihood the person with the less active area would make decisions deemed “bad” within our society would be increased. Studies recently done on accused killers at the University of Southern California showed lower levels of activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain within these criminals when compared to the activity rate of the average civilian (Mankin). Therefore, a properly functioning prefrontal cortex allows individuals to make good decisions, something that many killers do not have the full ability to do.
Even though the prefrontal cortex lacking function has been linked to killers, the exact cause of the absence of function is unclear (Mankin). The cortex within killers...

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