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Neuroimage Clin. 2014 May 10;4:800-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2014.05.002. eCollection 2014.

Abnormal brain structure in youth who commit homicide.

Author information

1
Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1101 Yale Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA ; University of New Mexico, MSC03 2220, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.
2
Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1101 Yale Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA ; Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University, P.O. Box 701, Garden City, NY 11530, USA.
3
Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1101 Yale Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA.
4
Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1101 Yale Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA ; Mendota Mental Health Institute, 301 Troy Dr., Madison, WI 53704, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Violence that leads to homicide results in an extreme financial and emotional burden on society. Juveniles who commit homicide are often tried in adult court and typically spend the majority of their lives in prison. Despite the enormous costs associated with homicidal behavior, there have been no serious neuroscientific studies examining youth who commit homicide.

METHODS:

Here we use neuroimaging and voxel-based morphometry to examine brain gray matter in incarcerated male adolescents who committed homicide (n = 20) compared with incarcerated offenders who did not commit homicide (n = 135). Two additional control groups were used to understand further the nature of gray matter differences: incarcerated offenders who did not commit homicide matched on important demographic and psychometric variables (n = 20) and healthy participants from the community (n = 21).

RESULTS:

Compared with incarcerated adolescents who did not commit homicide (n = 135), incarcerated homicide offenders had reduced gray matter volumes in the medial and lateral temporal lobes, including the hippocampus and posterior insula. Feature selection and support vector machine learning classified offenders into the homicide and non-homicide groups with 81% overall accuracy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results indicate that brain structural differences may help identify those at the highest risk for committing serious violent offenses.

KEYWORDS:

Gray matter volume; Incarcerated adolescents; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Pattern classifier; Support vector machine (SVM); Voxel-based morphometry (VBM)

PMID:
24936430
PMCID:
PMC4055901
DOI:
10.1016/j.nicl.2014.05.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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