Brain injuries may alter moral compass, suggests study

Brain injuries may be behind some criminal behaviour due to permanent changes to moral decision-making, a new study has revealed.

Dr Richard Darby, a neurologist at Vanderbilt University who led the study, said there is still plenty to learn about the brain and the role injuries play on an individual’s behaviour.

The study involved looking at people who carried out criminal activity after suffering a brain injury. In all cases, the subjects shared damage in a particular brain “network”.

The scientists also noted that 17 of the subjects had never carried out a criminal offence before the brain injury occurred.

“We found that this network was involved in moral decision-making in normal people, perhaps giving a reason for why brain lesions in these locations would make patients more likely to behave criminally,” said Dr Darby.

Professor Masud Husain, an expert in brain injuries, added: “These provocative findings provide further support for the view that criminal behaviour can emerge from disruption to specific brain networks.

“Of course, there can be many other reasons why people might turn to criminality but most neurologists are familiar with patients whose decision-making, value judgments and ‘moral compass’ change following the onset of a brain disease.”

At Almond Care our staff have the specialist training required to support those living with traumatic brain injuries. For further information about our services, please contact us today.