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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
New study reveals that the root cause of crime may be biological, not social
Feeding children a diet rich in fish could prevent violent and anti-social behaviour in their teens, according to research to be announced this week, which suggests the root causes of crime may be biological rather than social.
The study raises major questions over the extent to which criminals exercise free will, as well as fuelling fresh debate over whether simple childhood interventions might be of more use in preventing crime than blaming parents or organising draconian crackdowns on crime.
Professor Adrian Raine, a leading psychologist at the University of California, outlines a growing body of evidence showing that violent offenders have physical defects in a part of the brain linked to decision-making and self-control, which may make them more likely to lash out.
A group of three-year-olds from Mauritius were given an intensive programme of enriched diet, exercise and cognitive stimulation, which included being read to and involved in conversation. By the age of 11, they demonstrated the increased brain activity on brain scan read-outs, and by 23 they were 64 per cent less likely than a control group of children not on the programme to have criminal records.
“The take-home point is that the seeds of crime are sown early in life.”
“Could it be the exposure to increased omega 3 fatty acids, which we know are the building blocks of cell membranes, leads to better brain function which we did discern at age 11 - and better outcomes at 23?” said Raine.