ARTICLE: NEUROSCIENCE'S NEW TECHNIQUES FOR EVALUATING FUTURE DANGEROUSNESS: ARE WE RETURNING TO LOMBROSO'S BIOLOGICAL CRIMINALITY? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2010 Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

ARTICLE: NEUROSCIENCE'S NEW TECHNIQUES FOR EVALUATING FUTURE DANGEROUSNESS: ARE WE RETURNING TO LOMBROSO'S BIOLOGICAL CRIMINALITY?

Spring, 2010

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

32 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 301

Author

J. W. Looney*

Excerpt



I. Introduction

Cesare Lombroso, the nineteenth century Italian criminologist, proposed a theory of criminality suggesting that criminal behavior was biologically derived and could be predicted by various physiognomic features. 1 This concept was also promoted by Franz Joseph Gall, who proposed that higher mental functions were localized in specific and distinct areas of the brain. 2 Gall believed these regions were marked by features on the cranium (phrenology), as did Lombroso. 3 Lombroso was so confident in his theory that he proposed that those individuals who exhibited the appropriate physical features be irrevocably detained for life. 4

Modern localization hypotheses (a phrenology of social cognition) attempt to identify specific areas of the brain associated with personality or social psychological constructs. 5 With the advent of neuroimaging technology, noninvasive brain scans have been used in attempts to identify neural mechanisms involved in romantic love, 6 deception detection, 7 racial prefer ences and prejudices, 8 sexual arousal, 9 ethical decision making, 10 and consumer preferences, 11 among others. More relevant, studies related to neural topographies of aggression suggest that some criminal behavior may be correlated with brain abnormalities. 12 This may be, as some commentators suggest, "phrenological folly," or it may indicate that areas of the brain may, at some point, be identified as predicting violent behavior. 13 Lombroso would be proud.

II. Predicting Future Dangerousness

Predictions of criminal behavior, especially future dangerousness, have become an important function of the legal system. Such assessments are important in ...
 
 
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