Key Study: Moral judgement and the prefrontal cortex (Ciaramelli, et al)

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This study helps to explain how dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex might make people more susceptible to violent and/or impulsive behaviours. Similar to the VHIS, Ciaramelli et al investigated the differences between moral judgements in people with damage to their prefrontal cortex and healthy controls. Their study cites existing research that suggests people with damage to their PFC have “high levels of …

Key Study: Testosterone,the Brain and Aggression (Goetz et al, 2014)

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Background Information Many studies have shown that testosterone can influence levels of aggression. But there haven’t been many studies that show exactly how testosterone may cause aggressive behaviours. The amygdala is a part of the brain associated with emotional response and it prepares our body for fight or flight. Goetz et al hypothesized that testosterone might influence the activity (or reactivity) of the …

Hormones: An Introduction

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Hormones and the Endocrine system Another key biological factor in understanding behaviour is the endocrine system.  Neurons are what make up our nervous systems; glands are what make up our endocrine system. The endocrine system, therefore, is the name given to the various glands throughout the body that regulate and release hormones. You may already be familiar with hormones from …

Serotonin and Violence

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Serotonin and Violence Levels of neurotransmitters in the brain can influence behaviour, so it’s plausible to think that in the criminal brain there may be some abnormalities in neurotransmitter levels. Numerous research studies have shown that violent criminals do in fact tend to have low levels of serotonin (e.g. Moi and Jessel, 1995; Scerbo and Raine, 1993). Studies have also …

Neurotransmission and Behaviour

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Neurotransmission and Behaviour There are a number of different neurotransmitters. Research has shown that these different neurotransmitters are associated with particular behaviours. For instance: Dopamine: love, addiction, pleasure, motivation, Serotonin: mood, sleep, arousal, impulsive and aggressive behaviour Acetylcholine: learning, memory, sleep, movement Noradrenaline: stress, alertness arousal There’s always a desire in students first learning about biological psychology to jump to …

Neurons and Neurotransmission

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Brain Function: Neurons and Neurotransmission Neurons are a type of nerve cell found throughout our nervous system, including our brain. Brain function refers to the level of activity of brain cells (neurons) in the brain. There are around 100 billion neurons in your brain and they’re all connected to each other through their dendrites. Actually, they’re not physically connected. Between …

Key Study: Brain Damage and Violence (Grafman, et al 1996)

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The Vietnam Head Injury Study (VHIS) is a longitudinal that gathers and analyzes data from Vietnam war veterans. It has contributed significantly to our understanding of the brain as it has enabled psychologists to study veterans who have damage to particular areas of the brain and compare them with other veterans who have not suffered any damage. Through making these …

Key Study: Biology and Crime (Raine, 1997)

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British Psychologist Adrian Raine is a criminologist who specializes in studies investigating biological correlates of criminal behaviour. In a study conducted in 1997, Raine used PET scans to compare the brains of two groups: a) Convicted murderers who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) b) Non-murderers Because of its role in emotion and behaviour regulation and control, …

The Criminal Brain: Introduction

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Brain Function: An Introduction The Frontal Lobe, the Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex Numerous studies have shown that there are correlations found between brain function and violent behaviour. In order to fully understand these studies, it’s important to have a general understanding of some of the functions of these parts of the brain. The brain is labelled as having different …

Criminology: Charles Whitman Investigation

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Investigation: Because violence is such a broad topic it’s worthwhile to take a look at a particular type of violence. Mass shootings in America are a real and serious problem and something has to be done to reduce, and hopefully, stop them from happening. But before we can figure out a solution and/or prevention strategy, we need to understand why they’re happening. …