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Brain Imaging: Born Murderers With 'Warrior' Gene Among Us?

Brain Imaging: Born Murderers With 'Warrior' Gene Among Us?

Aurora theater shooter James Holmes (AP), Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof (AP), Newtown shooter Adam Lanza (Wikimedia/Commons)

By    |   Monday, 02 May 2016 03:43 PM

A large brain imaging study suggests that some killers could be born murderers because of the so-called "warrior" gene that may be linked to psychopathy.

The gene was identified after psychologist Kent Keihl created a forensic neuroscience library with brain imaging data from more than 4,000 criminals in eight United States prisons, reported The Express.

Keihl's work revealed that psychopaths have less gray matter in their brain and smaller neurons known as amygdalas, noted The Express, and officials hope the research can assists in identifying and catching serial killers in the future.

"(Psychopaths) have different brains," Keihl said, according to Popular Science. "At least 50 percent caused by genetics. That shouldn't surprise people with neuroscience knowledge."

Keihl's inmate study, which was published in the science journal Molecular Psychiatry,  concluded that variants of a gene and the cellular dysfunction that contributes to it could be a "plausible factor" for violent criminal behavior.

Helen Morrison, a Chicago-based forensic psychiatrist, believes that serial killers suffer from a chromosome abnormality that leads them to have an extra chromosome in their DNA, noted the website Best Counseling Degrees. Morrison studied 135 serial killers in her research.

Popular Science, though, warned there are concerns among scientists and ethicists who charge that environmental factors drive how genes are expressed and just because the gene variants exist in a person does not mean that person will become a murderer.

"Genes are programs that run every activity of every cell in your body every second you are alive," Daniel Weinberger, director of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins University, told Popular Science.

"If you inherit small glitches, little pieces of noise, this sets you on a path. But it doesn't determine you will end up with mental illness. These glitches aren't fate. They are for risk. Environmental factors are at play too." 

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A large brain imaging study suggests that some killers could be born murderers because of a gene that may be linked to psychopathy.
brain, imaging, born, murderers, warrior, gene
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2016-43-02
Monday, 02 May 2016 03:43 PM
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