The Prefrontal Cortex And Antisocial Behaviour Mindset Essay

Today's culture, where antisocial behaviour sometimes appears in children and men and women, seems to display a greater need to comprehend its underlying triggers. One's ability to act in an appropriate manner in confirmed social context is quite unique to humans; along with the ability to reason and make conscious decisions. Therefore, it seems to claim that such civilised behaviours are dictated by an area of the mind observed in only the most developed. Research into antisocial behavior implicates the prefrontal cortex; an area of the frontal lobe involved with decision-making and the capability to inhibit undesirable social responses. The study to be reviewed in this essay talks about how prefrontal cortex dysfunction impacts judgement and how this, subsequently, contributes to your choice to respond antisocially.

History is littered with cases of individuals whose behavior changes substantially as the consequence of brain destruction, however, these only represent patients where brain functioning evolves normally. Anderson, Bechara, Damasio, Tranel and Damasio (1999) provided the situation of two individuals where normal brain development was avoided by damage caused mostly to the prefrontal cortex before the time of sixteen weeks. This study involved an evaluation between adult and early-onset patients to evaluate the differences caused by the repressed development of the prefrontal cortex. Findings show that the two different categories of patients were very similar in cultural impairments but the distinction is seen in the actual fact that early-onset patients lacked the public and moral reasoning of the men and women, hence suggesting that development of social and moral concepts had been affected. This implies that the prefrontal cortex is involved in the capability to make socially suitable and moral decisions which can be then applied to make appropriate behavioural reactions.

Much research in this area makes use of diagnosed Psychopathic individuals (condition characterised by extreme antisocial behaviour towards others). Yang and Raine (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of 43 instances of varying runs of antisocial behavior- including psychopaths. Not merely do the findings support the engagement of the prefrontal cortex in antisocial behaviour- increased antisocial behavior is associated with reduced function of several prefrontal regions- nonetheless they propose some localisation of antisocial aspects in specific sub-regions of the cortex. They hypothesised that activity reduction in areas such as the orbitofrontal region are associated with emotional impairments and decision-making deficits, whereas, dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex dysfunction is more associated with quality impulsivity. Furthermore, brain imaging has highlighted orbitofrontal involvement in the reliving of one particular emotion known to underlie behavioural decisions: guilt (Wagner, N'Diaye, Ethofer and Vuilleumier, 2011). Yang and Raine's (2009) theory appears to explain how prefrontal damage can take into account a number of behavioural aspects that are categorized as the umbrella term of 'antisocial. '

Psychopathy has also been linked to discrepancies in the process of moral judgement through amygdala and orbitofrontal/ventromedial prefrontal cortex (Blair, 2007). Blair (2007) theorises that the reduction in care-based morality seen in psychopaths can be discussed in conditions of dysfunction of the amygdala and ventromedial l prefrontal cortex as they are involved with learning and reinforcement; in that aversive reinforcement avoids a person making immoral decisions. However, dysfunction in people that have psychopathic tendencies means that such types of learning do not take place and so they become unable to make moral decisions: leading to immoral behaviours. Verification is provided by Marsh, Finger, Fowler, Jurkowitz, Schechter, Yu, Pine and Blair (2011) who conducted brain imaging studies on patients with psychopathic characteristics whilst getting them to take part in a moral activity. Although, by their own admission, the moral process was fairly modest, the results show that individuals got reduced activity between the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala during process completion (Marsh et al, 2011). This seemingly supports Blair (2007) in linking deficiencies of both brain regions to moral judgment and psychopathic behaviour.

Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex has further been associated with moral decision making in terms of values about harmful intent behind certain behaviours. Young, Bechera, Tranel, Damasio, Hauser and Damasio (2010) conducted a study on patients with bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex where they manipulated cases to depict varying degrees of damage: (intentional damage, deliberate-unsuccessful damage). They found that relative to healthy controls, participants judged accidental harms more severely than unsuccessful yet intentional harm. According to Young et al. (2010) members came to the conclusion by neglecting negative behavioural purpose and concentrating only on the outcomes. Hence, it appears that damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, impairs a person's capability to make moral decisions regarding behavioural purpose. This has powerful implications: perhaps antisocial behavior displayed in those with prefrontal dysfunction exists out of the inability to recognise the harmful intention behind their actions, especially if the results is something they perceive as advisable.

In realization, the role of prefrontal cortex dysfunction in antisocial behavior is corroborated in intensive research which suggests its participation is not limited to one specific facet of the behaviour, nor a definite brain sub-region. This appears to make the debate more extensive than if such intricate behaviour was specified to one region exclusively. The prefrontal cortex appears to be mixed up in determination behind behaviours and the judgements that have an effect on behavioural decisions. Therefore, dysfunction of the area causes immoral decision making which in turn causes the individuals to behave in ways that can be classed as antisocial (such as those behaviours shown by psychopaths). Particular participation appears to be of the orbitofrontal region in influencing moral and psychological decisions into undesirable behavioural final results. Furthermore, connectional dysfunction of the region with other brain areas has been linked to learning processes involved with morality (Blair, 2007). This appears to explain the inability to learn what's considered morally right and wrong: shown in people that have harm obtained in infancy (Anderson, Bechara, Damasio, Tranel and Damasio, 1999). Whatever its role, great research support for prefrontal cortex dysfunction in antisocial behaviour somewhat validates its engagement and may question the extent to which an individual can be held in charge of such activities- that could have societal repercussions.

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