Criminal Behavior Might Be Linked To Abnormal Brain Shape; Law Courts Allow Such Evidence

Criminality is an inherent tendency that lies in the brain or at least the law courts think so. A court of law reduced the murder sentence of an Italian woman, Stefania Albertani, since her lawyers proved that her behaviour could be related to the abnormalities in her brain and genes.

Albertani killed her own sister by force feeding her psychotropic drugs and then burning her corpse. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Does this really reveal hidden criminal instinct?

Brain scans are being increasingly used in courts all over the world and quite a lot throughout the US. In fact, in the US, it has become a feature in a number of states and lawyers use suspicious brain scans in the defense of their clients.

The wider question remains does an abnormal shape of the brain really affect the actions of a person? Is there enough correlation to pronounce someone guilty or innocent?


It seems natural enough. A man was booked for paedophilic offences and was later diagnosed with a tumour in his brain. When he was operated on, his paedophilic traits went away. After a few months, when his paedophilic tendencies returned, doctors examined him and found that his tumour had relapsed.

But one case doesn’t solve the issue. Science needs hard statistical correlation before it can deliver a verdict, but apparently no such restriction binds law courts.

Medieval ages experienced such methods of rooting out’ criminals before they had a chance to commit crime by measuring the size of skulls and certain other factors. These methods were utter failures, so now neuroscientists are hoping that something more insightful by looking inside skulls and not just measuring them from outside.

So even though MRI scans might acquit criminals in law courts, science still has a long way to go!

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.