Charlie Rose recently hosted a series of discussions about recent advances in the sciences of the mind. One of these shows featured LANP's own Joshua Greene. The episide is entitled, "The Deciding Brain."
The Huffington Post just ran a piece about psychopathy entitled "The Sick Logic of a Psychopath" that highlights the recent work by (and includes an interview with) our very own Kent Kiehl. As always, happy reading!
Radio Health Journal has a series of interesting interviews with Kent Kiehl, Stephen Morse, and others concerning psychopathy, neuroscience, and the law. Go here to listen to the recording (beginning at the 2 minute mark).
Neuroscience has taken center stage in two recent criminal court cases--one in Italy, the other in Chicago, IL. In the former case, a convicted murderer got a reduced sentence based on evidence concerning his low activity MAOA (see here for a brief discussion about MAOA). The case was discussed recently in Nature News. Here is an excerpt:
An Italian court has cut the sentence given to a convicted murderer by a year because he has genes linked to violent behaviour
— the first time that behavioural genetics has affected a sentence passed by a European court. But researchers contacted by
Nature have questioned whether the decision was based on sound science.
Abdelmalek Bayout, an Algerian citizen who has lived in Italy since 1993, admitted in 2007 to stabbing and killing Walter
Felipe Novoa Perez on 10 March. Perez, a Colombian living in Italy, had, according to Bayout's testimony, insulted him over
the kohl eye make-up the Algerian was wearing. Bayout, a Muslim, claims he wore the make-up for religious reasons.
During the trial, Bayout's lawyer, Tania Cattarossi, asked the court to take into account that her client may have been mentally
ill at the time of the murder. After considering three psychiatric reports, the judge, Paolo Alessio Vernì, partially agreed
that Bayout's psychiatric illness was a mitigating factor and sentenced him to 9 years and 2 months in prison — around three
years less than Bayout would have received had he been deemed to be of sound mind.
But at an appeal hearing in May this year, Pier Valerio Reinotti, a judge of the Court of Appeal in Trieste, asked forensic
scientists for a new independent psychiatric report to decide whether he should commute the sentence further.
One fascinating issue that we are exploring as part of the LANP is the neural underpinnings of psychopathy. Led by Kent Kiehl--who did his PhD at UBC with Robert Hare of PCL-R fame--this research has the potential to not only further our understanding of the psychopathic mind, but also to change our perception of their moral and legal culpability. With the assistance of a mobile fMRI, Kiehl and his associates have already scanned more than 700+ incarcerated psychopaths. Given both how disproportionally violent psychopaths are and how little we can currently do for them in terms of treatment, this research could have several policy implications. As such, this is an issue that will recur on this blog in the months and years to come. For now, I thought it might be helpful to provide readers with some links to interesting articles, books, and videos about psychopathy: