herald

Friday 17 August 2018

How to spot a criminal at just 6 months old

Brain research may soon make it possible to spot budding criminals and psychopaths in the first few years of life, an expert has claimed.

Traits that predict anti-social behaviour and criminality can already be seen in the brains of children as young as six months, said psychologist Dr Adrian Raine.

One was a particular abnormality affecting the brain's "emotional centre", the limbic system. It showed up in six-month-old babies who as adults committed more crimes and displayed more signs of psychopathy and anti-social behaviour than unaffected individuals.

Three-year-olds with a poorly functioning amygdala, a key part of the limbic system, were also more likely to commit crime 20 years later, said Dr Raine at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"The time is going to come when we are going to be able to predict reasonably well which individuals at a modest age, say eight to 10 years old, are predicated to become criminal offenders," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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