Saturday, July 31, 2010

iPost: Psychology and Crime News



Psychology and Crime News


Twitter Updates for 2010-07-30

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 04:00 PM PDT

Powered by Twitter Tools

Now on Twitter

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 09:09 AM PDT

It's still hard to find the time to keep Crimepsychblog and the Deception Blog updated and I am not sure when (if ever) I will have the time to post as regularly as I used to. Meanwhile I'm still finding plenty of interesting links and papers so rather than waiting til I have time to blog about them properly (which will probably be never) I'm going to give Twitter a go. If I've configured the plugin correctly then there should be regular digests of the tweets posted to these blogs, so you can carry on watching here, or follow me at http://twitter.com/crimepsychblog.

Friday, July 30, 2010

iPost: Judges intro guide to neuroscience

Nice little intro at link below. And I've learned that I can view PDF file in my new iBooks app on my iPhone...sweet

http://bit.ly/9Fzxgz

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Flynn Effect report series: A biref history of the Flynn Effect--It was NOT given birth by Atkins V Virginia (2002) SCOTUS decision: IAP AP101 Report #8


Another new IAP Applied Psychometrics 101 report (#8) is now available.  The report [A brief history of the Flynn Effect: It was NOT given birth by Atkins v Virginia (2002) SCOTUS decision] is the third in the Flynn Effect series, a series of brief reports that define, explain and discuss the validity of the Flynn Effect (click here to access all prior FE related posts at the ICDP blog) and the issues surrounding the application of a FE "adjustment" for scores based on tests with date norms (norm obsolescence), particularly in the context of Atkins MR/ID capital punishment cases.  The abstract for the brief report is presented below.  The report can be accessed by clicking here.


The entire Flynn Effect series of reports can be accessed by clicking here.

  • Report # 1 (What is the Flynn Effect) can be found by clicking here.
  • Report # 2 (Is the Flynn Effect a Scientifically Accept Fact?) can be found by clicking here.
Abstract for third report.
This is the third in a series of brief reports to define, explain, and summarize the scholarly consensus regarding the validity of the Flynn Effect (FE). This report presents a brief historical summary of origins of the Flynn Effect (norm obsolescence). Historical facts indicate that the concern for IQ norm obsolescence and the concept of an IQ score adjustment procedure pre-dates the U. S. Supreme Court Atkins v Virginia (2002) MR/ID death penalty decision. The series will conclude with an evaluation of the question whether a professional consensus has emerged regarding the practice of adjusting dated IQ test scores for the Flynn Effect, an issue of increasing debate in Atkins MR/ID capital punishment hearings.


iPost: More on race and the death penalty

Story at IN THE NEWS (Karen Franklin) excellent blog link below

http://forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com/2010/07/victim-race-still-central-to-death_27.html


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Monday, July 26, 2010

Research Briefs 7-26-10: CHC theory & measures (WJ III) invariant (no psychometric bias) across blacks and whites

Kane, H. D., & Oakland, T. D. (2010). Group Differences in Cognitive Ability: A CHC Theory Framework. Mankind Quarterly, 50(4), 318-331.

Abstract

The Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of cognitive ability as represented in the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability-III (WJ-III) was examined for Black and White adults matched on various demographic variables. Although Whites performed higher than Blacks (i.e., race differences were found in test scores and accompanying factor means), the results of multisample confirmatory factor analyses found that the same constructs are measured in different groups. Therefore results are directly comparable, and in this sense measured differences can be interpreted as “real” differences on the dimensions that the test is meant to measure.
Part of authors conclusions:
With respect to the primary purpose of this study, although White-Black differences in cognitive ability are affirmed in favor of Whites, these analyses reveal no source of psychometric bias (i.e., differences in loadings, test intercepts, and error variance). Constructs are represented adequately and without undo influence of error. The structural fidelity of the WJ-III factor model is psychometrically sound, making it a suitable instrument for psychologists when estimating general and broad cognitive abilities for individuals and groups. The reported indices of fit (e.g., TLI, GFI, and RMSEA) suggest that the threestratum CHC model fits the WJ-III data fairly well and provides evidence of construct validity. This finding substantiates a growing body of research literature that upholds the WJ-III as a strong representation of CHC theory (e.g., Edwards & Oakland, 2006; McGrew & Woodcock, 2001). Further, the data support Carroll’s (1993) belief that the CHC theory is essentially invariant across racial-ethnic groups. Notably, the group differences in test performance are smaller than in most other studies (e.g., Osborne & McGurk, 1982). This particular result is likely due to the samples being matched by parental education and occupational status. In the US, this kind of control is expected to remove approximately one third of the Black-White difference that may be expected in demographically representative samples (Jensen, 1998;
Lynn, 1998).

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iPost: Top 10 SSRN downloads

Again from the CRIMPROF blog link below

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2010/07/top-ten-recent-ssrn-downloads-3.html


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Friday, July 23, 2010

Research Briefs 7-23-10: Psychology and academic freedom

Gottfredson, L. S. (2010). Lessons in academic freedom as lived experience. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(4), 272-280.

What is academic freedom, what guarantees it, and what would you do if your university violated yours? Few of us academics entertain these questions or ponder possible answers. This leaves us individually and collectively vulnerable to encroachments on our right to free and open inquiry. I use a case study from 1989–1994 to illustrate how violations of academic freedom develop, the typical pretexts used to justify them, and what is required to halt and reverse them. My aim is to help scholars recognize when academic freedom is at risk and how better to safeguard it in daily academic life. To this end, I describe the general social mechanisms that operate both inside and outside academe to selectively burden and suppress unpopular research. The case study provides concrete examples to illustrate six specific lessons. Like free speech in general, academic freedom (1) has maintenance costs, (2) is not self-enforcing, (3) is invoked today to stifle unwelcome speech, (4) is often violated by academic institutions, (5) is not often defended by academics themselves, and (6) yet, requires no heroic efforts for collective enjoyment if scholars consistently contribute small acts of support to prevent incursions.

Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. Preview of the six lessons and five sets of violations
3. Lesson 1. Academic freedom, like constitutionally-protected free speech, has maintenance costs
4. Lesson 2. Academic freedom is not self-enforcing
5. Lesson 3. Opposite to its intent, academic freedom is often invoked to restrict inquiry to “safe” ideas
6. Lesson 4. Academic freedom is often violated by academic institutions
7. Lesson 5. Academic freedom is often not defended by academic professionals themselves
8. Lesson 6. It does not take heroic efforts, just consistent ones, to sustain academic freedom


Hunt, E. (2010). The rights and responsibilities implied by academic freedom. Personality and Individual
Differences, 49(4)
, 264-271.

Academics enjoy freedom from retaliation for their statements that goes beyond the freedom accorded to other members of society. Academics are also often called upon to act as advisors, either to society as a whole or to public and private sector clients. This sets up a tension between freedom to speak and an obligation to speak responsibly. The problem can be acute in the field of individual differences, for findings related to individual differences touch upon the relations among different racial/ethnic groups, between genders, and have implications for educational and personnel policies. Examples are given of situations in which, in the author’s opinion, academics have abused their roles as expert advisors by speaking irresponsibly. At issue is not whether or not the person speaking reached a correct conclusion, but whether or not the evidence and reasoning about the evidence met reasonable standards for careful inquiry and analysis. Formal actions by governments or by university administration are seldom the answer. Standards enforced by professional societies are less problematical, but are far from complete solutions. The best way to handle the problem is to encourage open discussion of the issues involved, both between established academics and between faculty and students.

Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. The case of research on intelligence
3. Free speech protections and restrictions
4. The source of restrictions on free speech
5. The protection afforded by academic freedom
6. Illustrations
7. What to do about it

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Atkins MR/ID Capital Punishment Flynn Effect Archive Project update 7-22-2010


A new and expanded version of the Atkins MR/ID Capital Punishment Flynn Effect Project has just been posted.  You can access the special archive by visiting the first post where it was described and links provided.


The latest revision of this project is dated 7-21-2010.  New material includes the following:



  • A significant number of additional references/articles were added.  New references added since the last revision can be found in the "master reference list" branch listing of references.  New additions are in bold font.
  • Of particular interest to professionals involved in Atkins MR/ID death penalty cases is the collection of "in press" articles in a special issue of the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment.  These can be found among the bold font references in the "Master reference list" section of the archive, as well as all being listed in the "Atkins-related" section.  One of the articles (Hagan et al., 2010, in press) is not yet available but will be added as soon as it becomes available.
  • In addition, a branch (with links) has been added to the IDCP blog for a new series of special reports on the Flynn Effect.
Thanks to Karen Salekin for helping me locate a boat-load of the new references.




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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

iPost: Annual Review of Law & Social Science Upgrades Its LSN Partners in Publishing Journal



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Subject: Annual Review of Law & Social Science Upgrades Its LSN Partners in Publishing Journal


We are pleased to announce that Annual Review of Law & Social Science has upgraded its Partners in Publishing Journal within the Legal Scholarship Network (LSN), which includes, but is not limited to, a customized abstracting eJournal distributed to SSRN subscribers.

View Abstracts: http://www.ssrn.com/link/Annual-Review-of-Law-Soc-Science.html
Subscribe: http://hq.ssrn.com/jourInvite.cfm?link=Annual-Review-of-Law-Soc-Science

Annual Review of Law and Social Science(R) - http://lawsocsci.annualreviews.org The Annual Review of Law and Social Science, in publication since 2005, strives to enhance the understanding of the complex connections between law, culture, social structure, and society by focusing on social scientific studies of law and law-like systems of rules, institutions, processes, and behaviors. This groundbreaking series provides multidisciplinary insights into the impact of law, aggregated human behavior and interactions, analytic and normative jurisprudence, the dynamics of decision making and enforcement of authoritative rules, as well as the variations and changes in legal institutions and the management of social change by these institutions.


HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
You can subscribe to the eJournal by clicking on the "subscribe" link listed above.

You can change your journal subscriptions by logging into SSRN User HQ. If you have questions or problems with this process, please email UserSupport@SSRN.com or call 877-SSRNHelp (877.777.6435 or 585.442.8170). Outside of the United States, call 00+1+585+4428170.

SSRN's eLIBRARY
SSRN's searchable electronic library contains abstracts, full bibliographic data, and author contact information for more than 293,000 papers, more than 139,500 authors, and full text for more than 243,300 papers. The eLibrary can be accessed at http://ssrn.com/search.

SSRN supports open access by allowing authors to upload papers to the eLibrary for free through the SSRN User HeadQuarters at http://hq.ssrn.com, and by providing free downloading of those papers.

Downloads from the SSRN eLibrary in the past 12 months total more than 8.6 million, with more than 37.8 million downloads since inception. Downloads are currently running at a rate of 10.3 million per year.

SSRN's PROFESSIONAL DIRECTORY
Searching on an individual's name in the author field on our search page at http://ssrn.com/search provides the best single professional directory of scholars in the social sciences and humanities. Complete contact information for authors, including email, postal, telephone, and fax information, is available there.

SSRN's MISSION
SSRN's objective is to provide rapid, worldwide distribution of research to authors and their readers and to facilitate communication among them at the lowest possible cost. In pursuit of this objective, we allow authors to upload papers without charge. And, any paper an author uploads to SSRN is downloadable for free, worldwide.

LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP NETWORK
The Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) distributes other abstracting eJournals. You can subscribe to these eJournals through the SSRN User HeadQuarters at http://hq.ssrn.com.

Sincerely,

Bernard Black and Ronald J. Gilson
Directors
Legal Scholarship Network

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This is a general network announcement. All subscribers to any other lists automatically receive these announcements and cannot be removed without removing all other subscriptions within this network. Please contact admin@ssrn.com to unsubscribe.

Search the SSRN eLibrary | Browse SSRN | Top Ten Downloads

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the road again--blogging lite July 18-21


I will be on the road (working) again from July 18-21. 

I don't expect much time to blog...except for possible "push" type FYI posts re: content posted at other blogs.....or...mobile blogging (iPosts:  check out the link.....it is very cool...but, of course, I tend to be a tech nerd)......

I shall return.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) based intelligence testing in Atkins cases

I've written frequently about the importance of psychologists involved in Atkins cases to get more up-to-date re: contemporary psychometric intelligence theory, especial the consensus Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory of intelligence (click here for all prior posts, this one included, so tagged at the ICDP blog).  The gap between contemporary intelligence theory and testing practice in legal settings is troubling and needs to be narrowed.

Today I'm excited to announce the availability of a "taking stock" intelligence test/theory article that supports my frequent and persistent message...and it is NOT by me...but by other highly respected intelligence test research scholars.

I'm excited to announce that the special issue of Psychology in the Schools, Current Research in Cattell-Horn-Carroll-Based Assessment (guest editors where Jocelyn Newton and myself), is now published.  Yippeee.  To be honest, Dr. Newton deserves the major credit....she did all the heavy lifting and I road her coat tails.  Also thanks to Dr. David McIntosh for suggesting and overseeing the special issue

A review of the TOC can be found by clicking here

The article that I highly recommend as must reading is listed below (along with a link to a copy).

Keith, T. & Reynolds, M. (2010).  Cattell-Horn-Carroll abilities and cognitive tests:  What we've learned from 20 years of research.  Psychology in the Schools, 47(4), 2010, 635-650 (also available via click here)
This article reviews factor-analytic research on individually administered intelligence tests from a Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) perspective. Although most new and revised tests of intelligence are based, at least in part, on CHC theory, earlier versions generally were not. Our review suggests that whether or not they were based on CHC theory, the factors derived from both new and previous versions of most tests are well explained by the theory. Especially useful for understanding the theory and tests are cross-battery analyses using multiple measures from multiple instruments. There are issues that need further explanation, of course, about CHC theory and tests derived from that theory. We address a few of these issues including those related to comprehension-knowledge (Gc) and memory factors, as well as issues related to factor retention in factor analysis.
Although the WAIS-IV is not specifically treated in the article, the authors do address the changing (and more CHC-like foundation) of the Wechsler batteries via research on the WISC-III/IV (which the WAIS-IV has been following in terms of structural organization since the WAIS-III/IV).  The inescapable conclusion is that psychologists involved in Atkins cases need to "get current" on CHC theory and CHC-based test interpretation.  It is nice to no longer be the sole voice yelling into the halls of justice.

The article makes reference to a master table of CHC abilities and definitions included in the introduction to this special issue I co-authored with Dr. Newton.  It available here.


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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Research Briefs 7-14-10: Psychiatric expert witness in the criminal justice system

Mullen, P. E. (2010). The psychiatric expert witness in the criminal justice system. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 20(3), 165-176.

This essay examines the nature of being an expert witness as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The critiques of the psychiatrist as expert in the criminal justice systems produced by Michel Foucault, and Robert Musil provide a starting point for this study. Today's mental health experts working in the criminal justice field have an increasing burden of responsibility as a result of their wider role, and potentially greater power to harm. This requires an awareness of the dangers of misusing that power in part from misunderstanding its source. The expert's legitimacy stems from the knowledge they mediate. In psychiatry, we have an important, but limited, body of relevant quantitative scientific data coupled to a mass of qualitative observations with which we fill the gaps and construct our professional narratives. Confusing the science with the poetry makes us foolish and even more open to manipulation by authorities pursuing legal, governmental and populist agenda. The choices that face us lie between being a ‘forensicist’, tied to the legal discourse, or a being a physician, committed to mediating medical science and clinical experience. The middle ground is a slippery slope in the direction of the power of the criminal justice system.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

iPost: Top 10 SSRN downloads

Again...found via CRIMPROF blog link below

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2010/07/top-ten-recent-ssrn-downloads-1.html

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

iPost: New book on intro to neuroethics

Info at NEUROETHICS blog link below

http://kolber.typepad.com/ethics_law_blog/2010/07/martha-farahs-new-neuroethics-collection.html


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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the road again--blogging lite July 7-10


I will be on the road (working) again from July 7-10. 

I don't expect much time to blog...except for possible "push" type FYI posts re: content posted at other blogs.....or...mobile blogging (iPosts:  check out the link.....it is very cool...but, of course, I tend to be a tech nerd)......

I shall return.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

iPost: Top 10 SSRN downloads

Can be found at CrimProf blog link below on a regular basis

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2010/07/top-ten-recent-ssrn-downloads.html

Law Review Article. Wexler on therapeutic jurisprudence

Sex crimes defendent's privacy claim against psychologists fails: Guest post by Kevin Foley

The following is a guest blog post by Kevin Foley, a regular contributor at the ICDP blog, reproduced "as is."  The court decision discussed below can be accessed by clicking here.

People often ask lawyers, “Can I get sued over this?” The shrewd lawyer will answer, “Yes, you can sued over this, and over just about anything. But whether the other side is likely to prevail is another matter.” 

Michael Leon Seaton was convicted in 1986 of two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation, as well as kidnapping.  Apparently because he was approaching early release, the county sheriff’s department had him transferred to a state hospital for evaluation for possible civil commitment.  The decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals states that, “Two psychologists reviewed Seaton’s medical records from prison and recommended that he be civilly committed. They forwarded their evaluations and the supporting documents to the county district attorney, who then filed a petition to commit Seaton.” Seaton’s medical records were reviewed to determine whether the state should seek his commitment under California’s Sexually Violent Predator Act.  The Act enables the state to commit some sex offenders civilly for indeterminate terms subject to yearly evaluations. 

Among others, Seaton sued the two psychologists, alleging they violated his constitutional right to privacy by looking at his records and communicating their opinions and supporting data to the district attorney’s office. He also alleged HIPAA violations.

The court held that the HIPAA claim failed because individuals do not have a private cause of action under HIPAA. “Seaton’s claim that the disclosures violate HIPAA fails because under Webb v. Smart Document Solutions, LLC [499 F.3d 1078, 1081 (9th Cir. 2007)],  ‘HIPAA itself provides no private right of action.’”

The court also held that, “We join our sister circuits in holding that prisoners do not have a constitutionally protected expectation of privacy in prison treatment records when the state has a legitimate penological in access to them.”

But there was more to the case, because there were two time periods in issue – first, the time Seaton was serving his sentence, and “the second during any subsequent period necessary for his evaluation.” 

The court provides a considerable amount of analysis surrounding the privacy attached to medical information, leaving the reader with the inescapable conclusion that this area of the law is not precisely clear. In fact, according to the decision, the Supreme Court has never weighed in on the issue.  “Some of our sister circuits recognize a constitutional right to privacy in medical records, though the Supreme Court has never so held.”

In the end, as one might imagine, the state’s right to protect its citizens (the purported justification behind the civil sex offender statutes) outweighed any privacy interest of Seaton’s.  The court concluded, “The need for access to the information to protect the public is substantial, because the persons subject to it have shown by their history
that concern about the risk of sexual predation is not a chimera. There is an express statutory mandate to protect the public from persons whose mental illness causes them to be sexually violent predators.”

Concerning HIPAA, although patients do not have a “private” cause of action, they can file a complaint with HHS.  And HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR)  - the governmental body that prosecutes complaints - has considerable powers. Violators can be sentenced for up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 in criminal penalties for failure to comply. In addition, civil penalties can be imposed that include $100 per violation and up to $25,000 per person, per year for each violation.  The OCR is a busy outfit – in recent years the office averaged about 8,000 complaints per year.

Seaton v. Mayberg, No. 05-56894 (9th Cir., June 30, 2010)

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

iPost: Call for Papers

Call for Submissions to the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities: Special Issue on Dual Diagnosis and Families
The Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities requests manuscript submissions for a Special Issue on Dual diagnosis and Families. The Special Issue on Dual Diagnosis and Families will include (a) original reviews of literature, (b) empirical studies, or (c) commentaries or discussion of issues germane to dual diagnosis (intellectual disability and psychopathology) and families. Example topics include the impact of dual diagnosis on parents, caregivers, and siblings; parent and child mental health; family-based interventions and supports; family participation in psychosocial or pharmacological treatment; and dual diagnosis and parenting across the lifespan. The submission deadline for the Special Issue on Dual Diagnosis and Families is January 15, 2011. Please follow the guidelines for submitting manuscripts found on the journal's website (http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/19315864.asp). Please indicate in your cover letter that you wish to have your submission considered for the Special Issue on Dual Diagnosis and Families. Inquiries about the Special Issue should be addressed to Laura Lee McIntyre (LLmcinty@uoregon.edu).

--

Friday, July 2, 2010

iPost: More on 11th Circuits en banc review of Atkins decision

More on 11th Circuits en banc review of Atkins decision at link below

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2010/07/georgia-to-seek-en-banc-review-of-eleventh-circuit-panel-ruling-about-atkins-application.html

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Indigent defense system info

Issues involved in the indigent defense systems share many features with Atkins cases.  Earlier this year the  U of Missouri Law School held a symposium on the issue.  Information regarding the symposium, with links to videos of panel presentations, can be found by clicking here

In a related story,  a criminal defense lawyer in Miami recently posted a story about Stephen Bright's (head of Southern Center for Human Rights) recent speech at the Florida Bar's annual meeting. According to Kevin Foley, who gave me the heads up on these two stories, Bright is apparently one of the best known critics of the indigent defense system.  Click here for more info.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

iPost Fwd: [StandDown-L] NPR 3-part series - The Criminal Brain

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Steve Hall" <shall@standdown.org>
Date: July 1, 2010 2:54:41 PM CDT
To: <standdown-l@googlegroups.com>
Subject: [StandDown-L] NPR 3-part series - The Criminal Brain
Reply-To: standdown-l+owners@googlegroups.com

This e-mail contains the three-part NPR series, "The Criminal Brain," from NPR
Morning Edition:
   A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret
   Inside A Psychopath's Brain: The Sentencing Debate
   Can Your Genes Make You Murder?
- - - - -
You can listen to the audio reports at the links.  There are also photos and
other items at the links.
- - - - -
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127888976&ps=rs
June 29, 2010 | Morning Edition [6 min 22 sec] | First in a three-part series

A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

The criminal brain has always held a fascination for James Fallon. For nearly
20 years, the neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine has
studied the brains of psychopaths. He studies the biological basis for
behavior, and one of his specialties is to try to figure out how a killer's
brain differs from yours and mine.

About four years ago, Fallon made a startling discovery. It happened during a
conversation with his then 88-year-old mother, Jenny, at a family barbecue.

"I said, 'Jim, why don't you find out about your father's relatives?' " Jenny
Fallon recalls. "I think there were some cuckoos back there."

Fallon investigated.
"There's a whole lineage of very violent people - killers," he says.

One of his direct great-grandfathers, Thomas Cornell, was hanged in 1667 for
murdering his mother. That line of Cornells produced seven other alleged
murderers, including Lizzy Borden. "Cousin Lizzy," as Fallon wryly calls her,
was accused (and controversially acquitted) of killing her father and
stepmother with an ax in Fall River, Mass., in 1882.

A little spooked by his ancestry, Fallon set out to see whether anyone in his
family possesses the brain of a serial killer. Because he has studied the
brains of dozens of psychopaths, he knew precisely what to look for. To
demonstrate, he opened his laptop and called up an image of a brain on his
computer screen.

"Here is a brain that's not normal," he says. There are patches of yellow and
red. Then he points to another section of the brain, in the front part of the
brain, just behind the eyes.

"Look at that - there's almost nothing here," Fallon says.

This is the orbital cortex, the area that Fallon and other scientists believe
is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control.

"People with low activity [in the orbital cortex] are either free-wheeling
types or sociopaths," he says.

Fallon's Scans
He's clearly oversimplifying, but Fallon says the orbital cortex puts a brake
on another part of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved with
aggression and appetites. But in some people, there's an imbalance - the
orbital cortex isn't doing its job - perhaps because the person had a brain
injury or was born that way.

"What's left? What takes over?" he asks. "The area of the brain that drives
your id-type behaviors, which is rage, violence, eating, sex, drinking."
- - - - -
image
Fallon's brain (on the right) has dark patches in the orbital cortex, the area
just behind the eyes. This is the area that Fallon and other scientists say is
involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control. The
normal scan on the left is his son's.
- - - - -

Fallon says nobody in his family has real problems with those behaviors. But
he wanted to be sure. Conveniently, he had everything he needed: Previously,
he had persuaded 10 of his close relatives to submit to a PET brain scan and
give a blood sample as part of a project to see whether his family had a risk
for developing Alzheimer's disease.

After learning his violent family history, he examined the images and compared
them with the brains of psychopaths. His wife's scan was normal. His mother:
normal. His siblings: normal. His children: normal.

"And I took a look at my own PET scan and saw something disturbing that I did
not talk about," he says.

What he didn't want to reveal was that his orbital cortex looks inactive.

"If you look at the PET scan, I look just like one of those killers."

Fallon cautions that this is a young field. Scientists are just beginning to
study this area of the brain - much less the brains of criminals. Still, he
says the evidence is accumulating that some people's brains predispose them
toward violence and that psychopathic tendencies may be passed down from one
generation to another.

The Three Ingredients
And that brings us to the next part of Jim Fallon's family experiment. Along
with brain scans, Fallon also tested each family member's DNA for genes that
are associated with violence. He looked at 12 genes related to aggression and
violence and zeroed in on the MAO-A gene (monoamine oxidase A). This gene,
which has been the target of considerable research, is also known as the
"warrior gene" because it regulates serotonin in the brain. Serotonin affects
your mood - think Prozac - and many scientists believe that if you have a
certain version of the warrior gene, your brain won't respond to the calming
effects of serotonin.

Fallon calls up another slide on his computer. It has a list of family
members' names, and next to them, the results of the genotyping. Everyone in
his family has the low-aggression variant of the MAO-A gene, except for one
person.

"You see that? I'm 100 percent. I have the pattern, the risky pattern," he
says, then pauses. "In a sense, I'm a born killer."

Fallon was prompted to study his brain after his mother, Jenny, told him his
ancestry was full of alleged murderers.

Fallon's being tongue-in-cheek - sort of. He doesn't believe his fate or
anyone else's is entirely determined by genes. They merely tip you in one
direction or another.

And yet: "When I put the two together, it was frankly a little disturbing,"
Fallon says with a laugh. "You start to look at yourself and you say, 'I may
be a sociopath.' I don't think I am, but this looks exactly like [the brains
of] the psychopaths, the sociopaths, that I've seen before."

I asked his wife, Diane, what she thought of the result.

"I wasn't too concerned," she says, laughing. "I mean, I've known him since I
was 12."

Diane probably does not need to worry, according to scientists who study this
area. They believe that brain patterns and genetic makeup are not enough to
make anyone a psychopath. You need a third ingredient: abuse or violence in
one's childhood.

"And fortunately, he wasn't abused as a young person," Diane says, "so I've
lived to be a ripe old age so far."

The New World of 'Neurolaw'
Jim Fallon says he had a terrific childhood; he was doted on by his parents
and had loving relationships with his brothers and sisters and entire extended
family. Significantly, he says this journey through his brain has changed the
way he thinks about nature and nurture. He once believed that genes and brain
function could determine everything about us. But now he thinks his childhood
may have made all the difference.

"We'll never know, but the way these patterns are looking in general
population, had I been abused, we might not be sitting here today," he says.

As for the psychopaths he studies, Fallon feels some compassion for these
people who, he says, got "a bad roll of the dice."

"It's an unlucky day when all of these three things come together in a bad
way, and I think one has to empathize with what happened to them," he says.

But what about people who rape and murder - should we feel empathy for them?
Should they be allowed to argue in court that their brains made them do it?
Enter the new world of "neurolaw" - in which neuroscience is used as evidence
in the courtroom.

/ / / / /

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128116806&ps=rs
June 30, 2010 | Morning Edition [7 min 37 sec] | Second in a three-part series

Inside A Psychopath's Brain: The Sentencing Debate
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Kent Kiehl has studied hundreds of psychopaths. Kiehl is one of the world's
leading investigators of psychopathy and a professor at the University of New
Mexico. He says he can often see it in their eyes: There's an intensity in
their stare, as if they're trying to pick up signals on how to respond. But
the eyes are not an element of psychopathy, just a clue.

Officially, Kiehl scores their pathology on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist,
which measures traits such as the inability to feel empathy or remorse,
pathological lying, or impulsivity.

"The scores range from zero to 40," Kiehl explains in his sunny office
overlooking a golf course. "The average person in the community, a male, will
score about 4 or 5. Your average inmate will score about 22. An individual
with psychopathy is typically described as 30 or above. Brian scored 38.5
basically. He was in the 99th percentile."

"Brian" is Brian Dugan, a man who is serving two life sentences for rape and
murder in Chicago. Last July, Dugan pleaded guilty to raping and murdering
10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in 1983, and he was put on trial to determine
whether he should be executed. Kiehl was hired by the defense to do a
psychiatric evaluation.

In a videotaped interview with Kiehl, Dugan describes how he only meant to rob
the Nicaricos' home. But then he saw the little girl inside.

"She came to the door and ... I clicked," Dugan says in a flat, emotionless
voice. "I turned into Mr. Hyde from Dr. Jekyll."

On screen, Dugan is dressed in an orange jumpsuit. He seems calm, even normal
- until he lifts his hands to take a sip of water and you see the handcuffs.
Dugan is smart - his IQ is over 140 - but he admits he has always had shallow
emotions. He tells Kiehl that in his quarter century in prison, he believes
he's developed a sense of remorse.

"And I have empathy, too - but it's like it just stops," he says. "I mean, I
start to feel, but something just blocks it. I don't know what it is."

Kiehl says he's heard all this before: All psychopaths claim they feel
terrible about their crimes for the benefit of the parole board.

"But then you ask them, 'What do you mean, you feel really bad?' And Brian
will look at you and go, 'What do you mean, what does it mean?' They look at
you like, 'Can you give me some help? A hint? Can I call a friend?' They have
no way of really getting at that at all," Kiehl says.

Kiehl says the reason people like Dugan cannot access their emotions is that
their physical brains are different. And he believes he has the brain scans to
prove it.

Brain Scanning In A Mobile MRI
On a crystal clear June morning at Albuquerque's Youth Diagnostic and
Development Center, juveniles who have been convicted of violent offenses
march by, craning their necks as a huge trailer drives through the gates. This
is Kiehl's prize - a $2 million mobile MRI provided by the Mind Research
Network at the University of New Mexico. Kiehl transports the mobile MRI to
maximum-security prisons around the state, and over the past few years, he has
scanned the brains of more than 1,100 inmates, about 20 percent of whom are
psychopaths.

For ethical reasons, Kiehl could not allow me to watch an inmate's brain being
scanned, so he asked his researchers to demonstrate.

After a few minutes of preparation, researcher Kevin Bache settles into the
brain scanner, where he can look up and see a screen. On the screen flashes
three types of pictures. One kind depicts a moral violation: He sees several
hooded Klansmen setting a cross on fire. Another type is emotional but morally
ambiguous: a car that is on fire but you don't know why. Another type of photo
is neutral: for example, students standing around a Bunsen burner.

The subjects rate whether the picture is a moral violation on a scale of 1 to
5. Kiehl says most psychopaths do not differ from normal subjects in the way
they rate the photos: Both psychopaths and the average person rank the KKK
with a burning cross as a moral violation. But there's a key difference:
Psychopaths' brains behave differently from that of a nonpsychopathic person.
When a normal person sees a morally objectionable photo, his limbic system
lights up. This is what Kiehl calls the "emotional circuit," involving the
orbital cortex above the eyes and the amygdala deep in the brain. But Kiehl
says when psychopaths like Dugan see the KKK picture, their emotional circuit
does not engage in the same way.

"We have a lot of data that shows psychopaths do tend to process this
information differently," Kiehl says. "And Brian looked like he was processing
it like the other individuals we've studied with psychopathy."

Kiehl says the emotional circuit may be what stops a person from breaking into
that house or killing that girl. But in psychopaths like Dugan, the brakes
don't work. Kiehl says psychopaths are a little like people with very low IQs
who are not fully responsible for their actions. The courts treat people with
low IQs differently. For example, they can't get the death penalty.

"What if I told you that a psychopath has an emotional IQ that's like a
5-year-old?" Kiehl asks. "Well, if that was the case, we'd make the same
argument for individuals with low emotional IQ - that maybe they're not as
deserving of punishment, not as deserving of culpability, etc."

Brian Dugan pleaded guilty last year to raping and murdering 10-year-old
Jeanine Nicarico in 1983, and he was put on trial to determine whether he
should be executed. Neuroscientist Kent Kiehl was hired by the defense to do a
psychiatric evaluation.
- - - - -
Image
Brian Dugan pleaded guilty last year to raping and murdering 10-year-old
Jeanine Nicarico in 1983, and he was put on trial to determine whether he
should be executed. Neuroscientist Kent Kiehl was hired by the defense to do a
psychiatric evaluation.
- - - - -

Implications Of The Diagnosis
And that's exactly what Dugan's lawyers argued at trial last November.
Attorney Steven Greenberg said that Dugan was not criminally insane. He knew
right from wrong. But he was incapable of making the right choices.

"Someone shouldn't be executed for a condition that they were born with,
because it's not their fault," Greenberg says. "The crime is their fault, and
he wasn't saying it wasn't his fault, and he wasn't saying, give [me] a free
pass. But he was saying, don't kill me because it's not my fault that I was
born this way."

This argument troubles Steven Erickson, a forensic psychologist and legal
scholar at Widener University School of Law. He notes that alcoholics have
brain abnormalities. Do we give them a pass if they kill someone while driving
drunk?

"What about folks who suffer from depression? They have brain abnormalities,
too. Should they be entitled to [an] excuse under the law?" he asks. "I think
the key idea here is the law is not interested in brain abnormalities. The law
is interested in whether or not someone at the time that the criminal act
occurred understood the difference between right and wrong."

At trial, Jonathan Brodie, a psychiatrist at NYU Medical School who was the
prosecution's expert witness, went further. Even if Dugan's brain is abnormal,
he testified, the brain does not dictate behavior.

"There may be many, many people who also have psychopathic tendencies and have
similar scans, who don't do antisocial behavior, who don't rape and kill,"
Brodie says.

Moreover, Brodie told the jury, Dugan's brain scan in 2009 says nothing about
what his brain was like when he killed Jeanine Nicarico.

"I don't know with Brian Dugan what was going on in his brain" when he
committed his crime, Brodie says. "And I certainly don't know what was going
on from a brain scan that was taken 24 years later."

The jury seemed to zero in on the science, asking to reread all the testimony
about the neuroscience during 10 hours of deliberation. But in the end, they
sentenced Dugan to death. Dugan is appealing the sentence.

In the meantime, this case signals the beginning of a revolution in the
courtroom, Kiehl says.

"Neuroscience and neuroimaging is going to change the whole philosophy about
how we punish and how we decide who to incapacitate and how we decide how to
deal with people," he says, echoing comments of a growing number of leading
scholars across the country, including Princeton and Harvard.

Just like DNA, he believes brain scans will eventually be standard fare. And
that, he and others say, could upend our notions of culpability, crime and
punishment.

/ / / / /

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128043329
July 1, 2010 | Morning Edition | [7 min 46 sec] Last in a three-part series

Can Your Genes Make You Murder?
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

When the police arrived at Bradley Waldroup's trailer home in the mountains of
Tennessee, they found a war zone. There was blood on the walls, blood on the
carpet, blood on the truck outside, even blood on the Bible that Waldroup had
been reading before all hell broke loose.

Assistant District Attorney Drew Robinson says that on Oct. 16, 2006, Waldroup
was waiting for his estranged wife to arrive with their four kids for the
weekend. He had been drinking, and when his wife said she was leaving with her
friend, Leslie Bradshaw, they began to fight. Soon, Waldroup had shot Bradshaw
eight times and sliced her head open with a sharp object. When Waldroup was
finished with her, he chased after his wife, Penny, with a machete, chopping
off her finger and cutting her over and over.

"There are murders and then there are ... hacking to death, trails of blood,"
says prosecutor Cynthia Lecroy-Schemel. "I have not seen one like this. And I
have done a lot."

Prosecutors charged Waldroup with the felony murder of Bradshaw, which carries
the death penalty, and attempted first-degree murder of his wife. It seemed
clear to them that Waldroup's actions were intentional and premeditated.

"There were numerous things he did around the crime scene that were conscious
choices," Lecroy-Schemel says. "One of them was [that] he told his children to
'come tell your mama goodbye,' because he was going to kill her. And he had
the gun, and he had the machete."
- - - - -
image
A photo from the crime scene at Bradley Waldroup's house.
A machete that Bradley Waldroup used to wound his estranged wife. At right is
the Bible Waldroup had been reading before his wife and her friend arrived at
his home.
- - - - -

It was a pretty straightforward case. Even Waldroup said so during his trial
last year. He said on the murderous night, he just "snapped," and he admitted
that he killed Leslie Bradshaw and attacked his wife. "I'm not proud of none
of it," Waldroup said.

"It wasn't a who done it?" says defense attorney Wylie Richardson. "It was a
why done it?"

A Dangerous Mix
Richardson says he realized that the testimony at trial would be "very
graphic." The defense team, he says, did not try to dismantle the graphic
evidence but rather sought to "give a broader and fuller picture of what that
was."

How to do that? The answer, it turned out, lay in Bradley Waldroup's genes.

Immediately, Richardson went to forensic psychiatrist William Bernet of
Vanderbilt University and asked him to give Waldroup a psychiatric evaluation.
Bernet also took a blood sample and brought it to Vanderbilt's Molecular
Genetics Laboratory. Since 2004, Bernet and laboratory director Cindy
Vnencak-Jones have been analyzing the DNA of people like Waldroup.

They've tested some 30 criminal defendants, most of whom were charged with
murder. They were looking for a particular variant of the MAO-A gene - also
known as the warrior gene because it has been associated with violence. Bernet
says they found that Waldroup has the high-risk version of the gene.

"His genetic makeup, combined with his history of child abuse, together
created a vulnerability that he would be a violent adult," Bernet explains.

Over the fierce opposition of prosecutors, the judge allowed Bernet to testify
in court that these two factors help explain why Waldroup snapped that
murderous night.

"We didn't say these things made him become violent, but they certainly
constituted a risk factor or a vulnerability," Bernet says.

Bernet cited scientific studies over the past decade that found that the
combination of the high-risk gene and child abuse increases one's chances of
being convicted of a violent offense by more than 400 percent. He notes that
other studies have not found a connection between the MAO-A gene and violence
- but he told the jury that he felt the genes and childhood abuse were a
dangerous cocktail.

"A person doesn't choose to have this particular gene or this particular
genetic makeup," Bernet says. "A person doesn't choose to be abused as a
child. So I think that should be taken into consideration when we're talking
about criminal responsibility."
- - - - -
image
Brad Waldroup takes the stand in 2009.
A jury was asked to weigh genetic evidence in the case against Bradley
Waldroup, accused of murder and attempted murder. A forensic psychiatrist
testified that Waldroup carried a gene associated with violence.
- - - - -

A jury was asked to weigh genetic evidence in the case against Bradley
Waldroup, accused of murder and attempted murder. A forensic psychiatrist
testified that Waldroup carried a gene associated with violence.

Genetics, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
The genetic testing was only one piece of Waldroup's defense. His attorneys
also argued that Waldroup was depressed, suffered from "intermittent explosive
disorder" and acted in the heat of passion. Still, defense co-attorney Shari
Tayloe Young says the genetic evidence was critical.

"I think if that wasn't out there, then all the jury would have seen are all
these terrible pictures where he took a machete and hacked at his wife," she
says. "And they would have thought, he's the worst of the worst, and that's
what the death penalty is for - the worst of the worst. But because they heard
all the mental issues, they understood what was going on in him and understood
why he did what he did."

Prosecutor Drew Robinson thinks this genetic evidence is "smoke and mirrors,"
aimed at confusing the jury.

"The more of this information that you put before a jury, the [greater the]
chances of confusing them and drawing their attention away from the facts and
onto some other aspects of the case," Robinson says. "You always run that
risk. And I just think that's asking the jury to grasp ahold of a little bit
too much."

To rebut Bernet's testimony, Robinson called in his own expert: psychiatrist
Terry Holmes, the clinical director of Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute
in Chattanooga, Tenn. Holmes urged the jury to ignore it.

"This was somebody who was intoxicated and mad and was gonna hurt somebody,"
Holmes says. "And it had little to nothing to do with his genetic makeup."

Holmes says it's way too early to use this research in a court of law. And he
believes Bernet is spinning the data.

But jurors say they weren't spun. Sheri Lard, one of the 12, says it was just
one piece of evidence that weighed heavily for some - and for others, not at
all.

"We had your good old boys who wanted to stick it to him," Lard says,
laughing. "You had your grandmother types who felt sorry for him. And then you
had the medical ones. The medical ones were the ones who wanted to do due
diligence."

Genetic Evidence A Factor
But Lard says the genetic evidence did figure into a major decision - whether
to find Waldroup guilty of murder and impose the death penalty. The jurors
concluded that his actions were not premeditated and agreed with the defense
argument that Waldroup just exploded.

"I remember when we were talking as a jury, the comment was brought up, 'You
know, if I were in this situation, I would snap.' But there was more to it.
There was more to his whole life that led to that moment," Lard says.

Including his genes?

"Oh I'm sure," Lard says. "And his background - nature vs. nurture."
- - - - -
image
Psychiatrist Terry Holmes says it's too early to use this kind of genetic
evidence in a court of law, and testified that Waldroup was simply drunk and
mad. The attacks "had little do with his genetic makeup," Holmes says.
- - - - -

Another juror, Debbie Beaty, says the science helped persuade her that
Waldroup was not entirely in control of his actions.

"Evidently it's just something that doesn't tick right," Beaty says. "Some
people without this would react totally different than he would."

And even though prosecutors tried to play down the genetic evidence, Beaty
felt it was a major factor.

"A diagnosis is a diagnosis, it's there," she says. "A bad gene is a bad
gene."

After 11 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Waldroup of voluntary
manslaughter - not murder - and attempted second-degree murder.

Prosecutor Drew Robinson was stunned.

"I was just flabbergasted. I did not know how to react to it," Robinson says.

Nor did fellow prosecutor Cynthia Lecroy-Schemel. She worries that this sort
of defense is the wave of the future.

"Anything that defense attorneys can have to latch onto to save their client's
life or to lessen their client's culpability, they will do it," Lecroy-Schemel
says.

Waldroup's attorney, Wylie Richardson, says she's right.

"I would use it again" under the right circumstances, he says. "It seemed to
work in this case."

The judge in the case sentenced Waldroup to 32 years in prison. At the
hearing, Judge Carroll Ross told Waldroup he should think twice about
appealing. The state might not mind trying this again and asking for the death
penalty, the judge said. You might not be as fortunate with a jury the next
time.

Scientists and legal experts expect to see more cases like this as
neuroscience makes inroads into the courtroom, and presents guilt and
innocence - not in terms of black and white - but in shades of gray.

/ / / / /
Steve Hall
512.879.1675  (o
512.627.3011  (m
Skype: shall78711
shall@standdown.org
www.StandDown.org

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