Casey Sims
Tutor: Abbey Hamilton

The development of Neuroscience and Social Psychology and the determinants of Psychopathic Murderers.

The Artefact.
The artefact is the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan of a human brain.

This Scan of Brain just looks another brain scan to a normal person, but to neurologists this brain shows the biological pinpoints that are the basis of a psychopathic killer.

This particular brain scan is that of Jim Fallon a well-respected neurologist who works in the field of identifying if there is biological basis for criminal behaviour. (Gautum, 2009) Jim possess the characteristic that biologically make him a psychopathic killer but due to no disruption in his parental process’ he has not evolved into the psychopath he is biologically meant to be. He has similar brain scans to that of some of the world’s most horrific psychopathic killers, yet has not committed any crimes. This brings forward the debate are Criminals born or made.

Public Health Issue
It has been said that a psychopath can strike anyone at any given time (Today, 2004) making the public at risk from these persons three ingredients are needed for a psychopathic killer (Fallon, 2012)(Hargerty, 2012):
  1. MAO-A gene (monoamine oxidase A). Otherwise known as the warrior gene affecting the levels of serotonin in the brain.
  2. Low activity in the orbital cortex of the brain. The part of the brain is involved with ethical behaviour, moral decision-making and impulse control.
  3. Disruption in parental process’ during childhood. These include, abuse, neglect, and traumatic experiences.

With the growing technology in the field of psychopaths and their behaviour from a neuroscience perspective, determinates of their behaviour from a biological basis can be beneficial to the population. The ability to pinpoint the biological basis of their behaviour can enable psychologists and psychiatrists to treat these persons, and protect the population upon their release from incarceration. For the future, determining family members with these biological characteristics can allow family members to be careful that the parental processes of the biological psychopaths are not disrupted. Attempting to break the cycle of biological and social determinates combining to create the psychotic killers will benefit the endangered population.

Literature Review.
Due to the prevalence of psychopaths in society, much theory over nature vs. nurture have been brought forward. Over the past half century the nurture debate has been more dominate. The nature debate in the last decade has made a mark with the evolving technologies to test it. (Fallon, 2012) With both debates providing plausible evidence, combing the two has seen a more recent inclination towards both nature and nurture been determinates in causation of criminal activity in particular psychotic kills.

It is said by (Najman, 2011) that Antisocial behaviour and violent behaviours have been linked to a disruption or absence of parental processes. These processes are an abusive relationship, a traumatic experience and the absence of a relationship. The research of (Odgers, 2009) reported the same link between violent behaviour and disrupted and r absence of parental process’. They both acquired the same results and both researchers concluded that a person’s neighbourhood and the consequential socio economic of the neighbourhood of residence, attributed to the breakdown of parental processes. The negative experiences of childhood are one of the three attributes of a psychotic killer. Therefore the environment, to which one was raised in, has a great influence on their future and possible violent and psychotic tendencies.

In contrast to the nurture debate, the biological perspective has made its standpoint in recent years due to continued advancements in the technology. In the past decade there are two major points that have been put forward by researchers. The first is, violent behaviour is genetic. The gene under the spotlight is the warrior gene and in the gene coding: Monoamine Oxidase A. (Gillett, 2012) It has been found that higher MAOA levels lead to lower levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain predisposing the individual to violent behaviour, aggression,
and risk taking in animals and humans, a combination referred to as a “warrior”
type of mentality (Gibbons, 2004). The warrior gene does not regulate derotini properly. Serotonin affects the mood of the person, those who carry the warrior gene are unable to feel the calming effects of serotonin. This is problematic if the person is extremely violent. The piece genetics plays in the basis of a psychopathic killer is another one of three.

The third and final piece of the puzzle is brain matter. Fallon found that those who committed violent acts of crime in particular the psychopathic killers had when tested an inactive orbital cortex. (Fallon, 2012) The part of the brain has been associated with ethical behaviour, moral decision-making and impulse control. (Gautum, 2009)This lack of inactivity has been linked to other parts of the brain which controls ones empathy towards another. (Today, 2004) In the psychopaths scanned, they all had inactivity in that section of grey matter, consistent with psychopaths showing no empathy in the way they live their lives and the way they commit crimes. (Fallon, 2012) The inactivity in sections of the brain was found in all the criminals who were deemed psychopathic in particular the murders.

Each of these 3 determinates in the eyes of Fallon and his team, are those which a common across psychotic killers. If a person is missing one of the three determinates they will not develop into psychotic killer. (Gautum, 2009) It has been proven that the researcher himself had the biological markers of a psychotic but due to a non-disruptive childhood, Fallon has not developed into the killer he is meant to be (Hargerty, 2012).
It has to be understood that not one single person has yet given proof how the brain works, or even how the socio cultural context impacts on a person’s personality. (Fallon, 2012) It is theories. Currently there are scientists who work on theories to achieve a plausible answer to the questions of psychology and neuroscience.

The developments into neuroscience are still been conducted currently and with the forever changing technology, a definite answer to the biological basis of a person’s actions and thoughts will be developed. In saying that, the determinants for nurture will hopefully be confirmed as fact in the future. So that a clear and definite understanding of the public health issue is addressed.

Cultural and Social Analysis.
The incidence of crime has decreased in Australia (ABS, 2010), but a psychopath in the public can strike at any time due to the inability to pick out these persons as they charm their ways into peoples relationships and normalize themselves before attacking.
In the epidemiological research it was said that those who were violent were more than likely to be from a low socio economic groups of people. (Najman, 2011) (Odgers, 2009) This means there is a tendency for these individual to develop in the low socio economic areas of our society. It is important to break the cycle of low socio-economic status, and with aiding from the government families are able to receive extra money. Through channels such as Centerlink, which provide money to low socio-economic persons but also encourages and assists them in securing a job to secure money for a more economically sustainable future. It is then hoped that, said money will go towards creating a better living environment for low socio economic children. A better living environment reduces the disruptive parental processes and consequential risk of developing psychopathic behaviours.
Even to break and reduce one element of the three that (Fallon, 2012) has proposed as determinates to psychopathic behaviours can greatly decrease the likelihood of persons evolving in violent psychopathic offenders. Not only does this aid the person themselves but also decreases the danger to the public and there health.
Further clarity and understanding is required for both nature and nurture sides of these behaviours. As said, the whole population is at risk from a psychopath, and any developments in the areas of neuroscience and social psychology in regards to violent offenders will be a step closer in keep the public safe as a whole.

The Artefact represents the developments that have been made of time to incorporate social theory and biological science into the understanding of violent persons. In addition it represents the notion that people are not just what you see on the outside. A person who is a friend, or even family member, maybe a carrier for biological characteristics of a killer, a ticking time bomb for a social determinate to send them on a violent attack.

Especially in the case of Dr James Fallon a loveable family man who is a highly regarded neuroscientist is deep down a biological killer. It is representative, of the topic and makes a very good point that developments have been made in these areas of psychology and they have been beneficial for understanding. This artefact is a testament for the future of psychology the encryption of people’s minds.

Personally the artefact shows me not to judge a book by its cover, as a person whom I may call a friend, colleague, family may be capable of violently attacking someone. I have learnt from this assessment piece that there many sides to a person. That psychology has only just scratched the surface, and continual developments in both neuron and socio psychology will continue. This will greatly aid those who have committed horrendous crimes and also protect the public from such heinous crimes.


ABS. (2010). Criminal courts 2010-11. Australian Bureau of Statistics, all.
Fallon, J. D. (2012). Neuroanatomical Background to Understanding. California.
Gautum, N. (2009). What's on Jim Fallon's Mind? A Family Secret That Has Been Murder to Figure Out --- Nature Plays a Prank on a Scientist Looking for Traits of a Killer in His Clan. Wall Street Journal , 1-2.
Gibbons, A. (2004). Tracking the evolutionary history of a “warrior” gene. Science, 818.
Gillett, G. (2012). The warrior gene: epigenetic. New Gentics and Society, 41-53.
Hargerty, B. (2012, June 29). A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret. National Public Radio, p. 3.
Najman, J. (2011). Antisocial behaviour: An examination of indivual family factors. Trends and Issues in crimminal Justice., 1-7.
Odgers. (2009). Programs for parents of infant. Jornal of child Psychology, 355-391.
Today, P. (2004). Predators: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. Pyschology Today, 52-63.

Comments on other wiki's

Hi Timothy,

You have done very well presenting your Wiki presentation.

Recently in the news there has been a lot of attention towards Private health insurance. I also have noticed the increase in private health insurance ads and that they are always advertising a government rebate. As with most political issues I could never understand the facts in between the continuous political fighting between parties. Your presentation cleared that all up for me and was very informative.

The statistics showing that the public hospital waiting time was not reduced even with the 30% rebate offered to private health insurance should be of concern to health officials.

You are to be commended for taking this comment back to basics minus the political banter it made it easy to understand this important topic on our already strained hospital bed availability.


Hi Anna,

Well done on your wiki presentation.
I personally do not know of anyone who has gone to prison, so I have absolutely no clue on the implications of incarceration have on a person. All my knowledge of prisons have been built from fictional crime shows which obviously distort the image of what a prison actually is.
Your presentation was great in informing a person like me on the real health issues that prisoners are facing. I had previous knowledge of the link between low socio economic status and imprisonment. That statistic that the smoking in prison is 4 times greater than the population and the continuous drug use as well is alarming. These issues should be addressed by health officials so that prison is a place of rehabilitation and not a free pass to accommodation, free food and high drug use.

Again you should be commended on your presentation for the clarity it the provided on my knowledge of jails.