Does Brain Injury Contribute to Criminal Behavior?

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Source: Yuki Kimura via WikiCommons

Traumatic brain injury is associated with many negative things later in life. Headaches, anxiety, depression, and memory problems have all been scientifically linked to traumatic brain injury, and numerous studies have shown these symptoms can become even more significant with increased age. According to new research from the University of Exeter, TBI may also have a more subtle but life destroying symptom: criminal behavior.

Professor Huw Williams and colleagues surveyed 200 prisoners and found that 60 percent of young people revealed having some form of TBI as children from a range of incidents such as falling, car accidents and sports activities. These injuries, the researchers suggests, affect natural development of temperance, social judgement, and control impulses which contribute to criminality.

“The young brain, being a work in progress, is prone to ‘risk taking’ and so is more vulnerable to getting injured in the first place, and to suffer subtle to more severe problems in attention, concentration and managing one’s mood and behavior,” report author Williams explained.

“It is rare that brain injury is considered by criminal justice professionals when assessing the rehabilitative needs of an offender, even though recent studies from the UK have shown that prevalence of TBI among prisoners is as high as 60%. Brain injury has been shown to be a condition that may increase the risk of offending, and it is also a strong ‘marker’ for other key factors that indicate risk for offending.”

Parent Herald reports the findings caused the researchers to urge for early intervention and diagnosis to better manage brain injuries among young children, as well as providing essential neuro-rehabilitative support to prevent the occurrence.

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4 Responses to Does Brain Injury Contribute to Criminal Behavior?

  1. Tanya Agarwal July 2, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    Can u pls give some examples of such criminals who have had traumatic brain injury in their frontal lobes…

    • Rolf Gainer July 2, 2015 at 7:05 am #

      We refer you to the research articles of Dorothy Otnow Lewis, MD which will provide you with a rich background on the subject of brain injury and the correlation with criminal behavior. Additionally, several months ago in the Neuro Notes blog we posted a story about a Missouri death row inmate awaiting execution whose criminal behavior occurred following his brain injury. He was executed by the state in spite of the evidence of his neurological injury.

    • Amy November 5, 2015 at 3:28 am #

      Fred West suffered two severe head injuries to his frontal cortex as a 17 year old and we all know what he’s famous for. Although it could be argued that he was going down that path before the accidents, as he had such a disturbed childhood, but it’s safe to assume that the brain injuries he had didn’t help and probably did contribute to what he did

    • Kathleen April 15, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

      Richard Ramirez (aka- Night Stalker) had a dresser fall on his head at the age of two and another head injury at the age of 4 from swinging at a park; which cause him to have to get 30 stitches in head. As a a result of the TBI”s he suffered from grand ma seizures that went untreated.

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