Abnormal psychology


Purpose of the study

This study focuses on the brain activities that are associated withimpulse control and how these may affect the relapse of antisocialbehavior in released criminal offenders. The study uses the ACCregion of the brain which is robustly in control of impulse activityof the brain. The central purpose of the study is to determinewhether the anterior cingulated or the ACC section of the brainindeed affects recidivism (Aharoni et al., 2013).

Participants in the study

The participants constituted of 96 offenders from variouscorrectional facilities. The offenders were from different ethnicbackgrounds and they were followed for four years after their releasefrom prison. Another control group of non-offenders was also used forthe study. This group constituted of 102 adults aged between 23 to 52years (Aharoni et al., 2013). The use of participants in the controlgroup from Neuropsychiatry Research Center would present an ethicalissue considering that these participants have prior knowledge of howneuro-imaging works. Additionally, the payment that the participantswere receiving would have some influence on the results. Majority ofthe participants would only participate in the research due to thepayment rather than due to the true purpose of the study.

Neuro-imaging method used

The impulsivity of the participants was measured using the fMRI bythe use of GNG task. Visual stimuli were presented to theparticipants and the responses were recorded using the MRI-compatiblefiber optic response device. One predominant advantage of fMRI scanis its ability to shed light on the subconscious activities of thebrain such as the ACC activities. FMRI scans has an extra advantagein that it does not involve x-rays or radioactive tracers incomparison to other scans such as PET scans. On the contrary, thefMRI scan is extremely expensive hence only a few participants can beused in studies. This has made the conclusions arrived at in fMRIstudies open to criticism.

Results from the study

The study found out that low ACC activity resulted in a highpossibility of relapse of antisocial behavior or a high commission oferrors. On the contrary, high ACC activity resulted in lowercommission of errors.

Authors’ conclusions

The methodology applied by the researchers led clearly to theresults. The fMRI scans that were conducted demonstrated thecommission and omission of errors. The conclusions made by theauthors are based on their findings.

News media article

The article has clearly demonstrated the results of the study. It isevident from the article that low activity in the ACC resulted inrelapse to criminal activities while high ACC activities resulted inlow recidivism (Nuzzo, 2013). These were the same findings in theresearch study.

Whereas neuro-imaging may be used for selecting which recreationalfacility a person should be taken, there is insufficient researchstudies and findings that warrant the process to be used forincarceration, bail or acquittal purposes (Simpson &amp Greely,2012). Therefore, due to the inconclusive and the high cost of brainimaging, this process should not be used in forensic populations.

There are varied ethical issues surrounding neuro-imaging processes.The process has been found to be extremely expensive henceunaffordable. This has made the results or conclusions madeunethical. In the research study conducted, the participants had tobe paid in order to participate. This may act as an inducement to actin a particular way hence compromising the results (Bigler, 2014).The euro-imaging process determines the blood flow to specific areasof the brain. The blood flow may be affected by other factors such asthe health of the individual. For instance, there are some researchstudies that have shown that schizophrenia affects the results ofneuro-imaging.

One of the limitations of neuro-imaging is the health of theparticipants. Sick participants may record different results fromhealthy participants. Another limitation would be associated with thefact that there is no single section of the brain which can beassociated with a particular function. This is an assumption thatnumerous neuroscientists have overlooked. Thirdly, the process hasthe limitation of expense (McArthur, 2012). It is an extremelyexpensive undertaking and there are only a few institutions thatwould afford it. Neuro-imaging should only be used in instances wheredrug users are being assigned recreational centers.


Aharoni, E. et al. (2013). Neuroprediction of future rearrest.Psychological and cognitive sciences. Pdf.

Bigler, E. D. (2014). Neuroimaging: Vol. 1. New York, NY:Plenum Press.

McArthur, R. A. (2012).&nbspTranslational neuroimaging: Tools forCNS drug discovery, development and treatment.Oxford: Academic Press.

Nuzzo, R. (2013). Brain scans predict which criminals are more likelyto reoffend. Nature, international weekly journal of science.Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/news/brain-scans-predict-which-criminals-are-more-likely-to- reoffend-1.12672

Simpson, J. R., &amp Greely, H. (2012).&nbspNeuroimaging inForensic Psychiatry: From the Clinic to the Courtroom.New York, NY: John Wiley &amp Sons.