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The Law, Genetics And Neuroscience, And Personal Responsibility

992 words - 4 pages

My client who has been accused of; disturbing the peace, damage to public property, and resisting arrest cannot be held responsible for his actions. Due to biological factors which have been the direct cause of his anti-social and impulsive behavior. There is no scientific doubt that genes play quite a large role in anti-social behavior. “The question of whether there is a genetic basis is no longer interesting.” (Raine, 2008) The new question that has emerged is: How much do genes fuel anti-social behavior?
Having understood that genetics do play a part in the actions of an individual, solving the question of how much of it is in part of the biological makeup. There is clear evidence ...view middle of the document...

“Different clinical neuroscience paradigms are beginning to converge on the conclusion that there is a significant brain basis to antisocial behavior and that these neurobehavioral processes are relevant to understanding violence in everyday society.” (Raine, 2008)
Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between structural prefrontal impairments and antisocial disorders. Studies have shown that there is reduced glucose metabolism in the prefrontal cortex in murderers. This trend continues in violent attackers as well, which leads the belief that the prefrontal cortex acts as a constrictor for runaway emotions. “However, the prefrontal cortex is not the only brain area compromised in antisocial populations. Reviews of imaging studies have documented impairments to the cingulate, temporal cortex, angular gyrus, amygdala, and hippocampus.” (Raine & Yang, 2006 qtd. Raine, 2008)
All of this leads up to that during moral decision making there is a breakdown of brain circuits. Areas that this occurs in are the medial prefrontal cortex, angular gyrus, ventral PFC, posterior cingulate, and the amygdala. All of these areas are parts of anti-social behavior. The question that stands is, how are these defects of the brain contracted or created?
Environmental influences, especially during adolescence affect the brain quite greatly. “Separating rat pups from the mother in the first 3 weeks of life results in fearlessness and a reduced stress response in adulthood, resulting in an increase in glucocorticoid gene expression in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, two brain areas criically involved in regulation of the HPA stress response” (Weaver, Meaney, & Szyf, 2006 qtd. Raine, 2008 ) This applies to humans just as well. Psychological influences can affect the structure of the brain and DNA. This means that behavioral defects just as anti-social behavior can be a direct outcome of a traumatic childhood. Anything from early maternal rejection, to child abuse can affect...

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