In a frightening parallel with Hollywood blockbuster Minority Report, UK scientist Professor Adrian Raine has claimed brain scans could predict criminal activity before it’s even happened.
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, Professor Adrian, a former Home Office psychologist now working at the University of Pennsylvania, said that abnormal physical patterns in the brain could be the cause of criminal behaviour.
Criminals and psychopaths have smaller areas of the brain that help regulate emotion and behaviour, Professor Adrian’s studies found. He’s argued that identifying these anomalies early in life could be vital in stopping children from becoming criminals.
Future anti-social behaviour could be avoided by using simple methods, such as boosting the brain with drugs or food rich in Omega-3s at an early age, Professor Adrian has suggested.
Other ways to avoid the future problems could involve reinforcing positive behaviour in children, rather than punishing bad behaviour.
“The point will come when we have to decide – are we going to intervene at an early age? The prediction will never, ever be perfect. We’ll always make mistakes,” said Professor Adrian. “We could be ostriches and stick our heads in the sand, but I believe we have to pursue the causes of crime at a biological and genetic level, as well as at a social [level].”
The debate on the ethical and moral implications of testing, and subsequently treating children for acts they have yet to commit, should be a lively one, so watch this space!