May 1, 2016
Brain Imaging Born Murderers: Study Shows Brains Of Mass Murderers Are Wired Differently

Are mass murderers born with their brains already predisposed to kill? Researchers have been trying to answer that exact question over the course of multiple decades. In order to try to determine if mass murderers have similar brain structure, scientists have been conducting brain scans of these killers. These scans have found that the brains of mass murderers have similar properties. The study also found that 50 percent of the differences in these killing brains are genetic.

Diving deeper into their brains, scientists have found that specific genetic triggers exist and that these triggers can create a murderer. One of these triggers is cadherin 13 (CDH13). CDH 13 deals with making neural connections in the brain. CDH 13 has also be connected with impulse control issues. Another genetic variant, monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), which deals with dopamine, is another genetic trigger that can be used in order to determine a person's likelihood of becoming a mass murderer.Kent Kiehl is a psychologist who has been studying the brains of violent criminals for many decades. Through brain scans and interviews, Kiehl has been able to amass a database of over 4,000 criminals. Two of the things that Kiehl has discovered is that violent criminals have less gray matter in the brain and smaller amygdalas. The amygdala is where emotions, behavior, and motivation are regulated.

Kiehl is not the only mental health professional to believe that people can be born to be a murderer. Doctor Helen Morrison, a forensic psychiatrist, believes a chromosome abnormality can lead to a person being genetically predisposed to kill. Bobby Joe Long and Richard Speck are murderers that had chromosomal mutations. Long was born with an extra X chromosome. This extra X led to Jong's body creating an increased amount of the hormone oestrogen. This would have caused Long to develop breasts when he began to go through puberty. Morrison states that this caused Long to become embarrassed and angry which led him down the path of becoming a serial killer. Long is currently on death row in Florida for killing 10 women.

Richard Speck had the opposite problem. He was born with an extra Y chromosome. This caused an abundance of testosterone to be produced in Speck's body. An increase in testosterone can lead to an inability to suppress rage and anger. Speck's crimes consisted of rape and murder of eight nursing students in Chicago.

Using genetics and brain scans are just a couple of tools that can be used to determine if a person will become a murderer. Professor Jim Fallon has realized this first hand. Professor Fallon is a neuroscientist and has also been studying the brains of serial killers. During his research, Fallon discovered that these psychopaths have lower activity in their orbital cortex. These low activity levels are said to be responsible for behaviors exhibited by sociopaths and an inability to control rage and violent behavior. It was these studies that made Fallon believe that psychopaths and murderers were born to kill. His mind changed when he decided to test himself.

Fallon discovered that he had the same low activity level in his orbital cortex. He also discovered that he had the MAOA gene that was discussed earlier in this article. Realizing that he had similar brain chemistry as the violent people he was studying has led him to change his tune about being born to kill. Fallon now believes that there must be some other intangibles that cause a person to go down the dark road of murder. He believes that childhood experiences combined with the genetic variables are what create the perfect storm.

Do you think mass murderers are born to kill?

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