Brain Injuries May Be A Hidden Cause Of Criminal Behavior


Publish Date:
December 18, 2017
  • Frankel, Joseph
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On the morning of August 1, 1966 a man climbed up a clock tower at the University of Austin and shot and killed 13 people, and physically injured 31 more. Since then, it was widely publicized that the shooter had suffered brain damage before massacring dozens of innocent people.

While the last part of that story has been contested, it’s one that a group of researchers from the Harvard Center for Law, Brain and Behavior turn to when asking the question: What is the relationship, if any, between brain damage and violent crime?

“From a neuroscience perspective all behavior is caused. Is it different because it was caused by a concussion or because you were raised in a neighborhood with lots of drugs and fighting and bad things happening around you? If you push it hard enough it’s not clear how free any of us are in our decisions,” Henry Greely, a professor at Stanford Law School and director of the Stanford Program in Neuroscience and Society, told Newsweek.  From a legal perspective, Greely says, it might only make a difference in sentencing, but not in deciding whether a person is guilty or innocent.

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