|BBC Scientists are trying to understand the brain functions in psychopaths.|
When Brian Dugan pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a seven year old girl, Jeanine Nicaro, many thought the guy was the spitting image of a brutal serial murderer.Although she was killed in 1983, Dugan confessed his guilt to 2009. By then he had been repeatedly convicted for rape and murder of two people, one seven year old girl and a nurse of 27 who was also raped and killed.
If the death penalty in Illinois had been withdrawn, Dugan would have been executed. But its most extraordinary thing is that he never showed any remorse for any of their murders or crimes. Now scientists think that this lack of empathy could in fact be linked to why he committed such acts. Dr. Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico, United States, could scan the brains of Dugan as part of a unique project to understand whether antisocial behavior is linked to brain structure and function. “It was hard to understand why people were interested in what he had done,” he told the BBC Dr. Kiehl, recalling the time he interviewed Dugan. “Clinically it was something fascinating.”Psychopathy The Dr. Kiehl is considered a pioneer in the field of behavioral neuroscience. You are trying to understand the brain functions in psychopaths and use this knowledge in the development of treatments for these individuals. It is a controversial area because for thousands of years the subjects as Dugan has not been listed as sick but as evil. In popular culture term “psychopath” does not describe a diagnostic that takes compassion, but is something that inspires terror. Kiehl has a different opinion: “I tend to see psychopaths as someone who has a condition so do not use the word evil to describe them” . So what is a psychopath? “Clinically we define it as someone who gets a high score on characteristics such as lack of empathy, guilt and remorse,” says Dr. Kiehl. “They are very impulsive individuals usually do not plan or think before acting. They tend to get into trouble at an early age, “says the scientist. has long been known that many people in prison have symptoms of psychopathy, but so far not been able to obtain sufficient information on this disorder. The laboratory of Dr. Kiehl designed a unique portable brain scanner. It is equipped with the latest computer imaging technology but can be transported in a van and taken to high security prisons. The scientist used the device for carrying out two types of analysis in the brains of Dugan: observe the density and function . “Brian’s Brain (Dugan) has very low density in the paralimbic system called” the BBC said the scientist. This system is the “circuit of behavior” in the brain and includes regions known as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Scientists have long known that these areas are associated with emotional processing.Throughout the century, has studied people with brain damage in these areas because it was found that their behavior changes suddenly and become antisocial. “We believe these systems are not developed normally in Brian,” says Dr. Kiehl. Psychopathy appears to be linked to lack of development in these regions, which could be genetically determined. The doctor held scanners Kiehl time real Dugan’s brain to see his reaction to disturbing images, like the face of suffering people. The aim was to test the functioning of your brain. The scans showed very little activity in the paralimbic system for Dugan during the processing of emotions. ” out of these sessions Brian scanning and say ‘wow I had a hard time trying to understand what you wanted me to do,’ “recalls Kiehl. “And he had more errors on the test than other individuals.” emotional capacity According to researcher this proves that psychopaths lack the emotional capacity, in the same way that other people lack the intellectual capacity. And he says he has obtained similar results in a high number of subjects in prisons throughout the United States. Dugan, says the researcher, simply does not have a concept of the damage it has caused. “When he talks about his crimes is as if you are wondering what you ate for breakfast,” says Dr. Kiehl. He adds that in some sense not surprising that someone so different brain and also be seen as antisocial in scanners so different from other brains. “But only now that we have been able to see such drastic differences in these brains, people are starting to pay attention,” adds the scientist. “And this has a powerful impact on the legal system. ” The scientist hopes her work will lead to changes in the sentences of violent psychopaths like Brian Dugan. What I argue is that the understanding of psychopathy may lead us to distitnos types of sentences, in particular to end the death penalty for these individuals. “My hope is that neuroscience will help the legal system to understand that these individuals have a disease that is treatable,” says Kiehl. And these treatments should begin at key moments of life. “Brian began to suffer from their earliest years of life,” says neuroscientist. “committing acts such classics as lighting fires, damage to animals, hurting their brothers and sisters.” Although it was referred to specialist services in childhood they lacked an understanding of their disorder. In fact, children who have symptoms related to psychopathy often respond poorly to the type of technique used with children who misbehave. Because of their lack of emotional capacity, when teachers try to make them feel sorry it’s only the condfunde more and more likely to hurt more people. The intention now is to develop specific diagnoses for these children and establish programs and treatments specifically targeting your condition. In essence, teach these children laboriously have reactions in the other human beings arise automatically.