Unexpected: Neuroscientist’s Brain Scan Reveals He Is A Psychopath


The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath

by Joseph Stromberg Smithsonian.com

One afternoon in October 2005, neuroscientist James Fallon was looking at brain scans of serial killers. As part of a research project at UC Irvine, he was sifting through thousands of PET scans to find anatomical patterns in the brain that correlated with psychopathic tendencies in the real world.

“I was looking at many scans, scans of murderers mixed in with schizophrenics, depressives and other, normal brains,” he says. “Out of serendipity, I was also doing a study on Alzheimer’s and as part of that, had brain scans from me and everyone in my family right on my desk.”

“I got to the bottom of the stack, and saw this scan that was obviously pathological,” he says, noting that it showed low activity in certain areas of the frontal and temporal lobes linked to empathy, morality and self-control. Knowing that it belonged to a member of his family, Fallon checked his lab’s PET machine for an error (it was working perfectly fine) and then decided he simply had to break the blinding that prevented him from knowing whose brain was pictured. When he looked up the code, he was greeted by an unsettling revelation: the psychopathic brain pictured in the scan was his own.

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  1. Admirable pick of article and self-insight shown by a real man of science –Laudably, madame Duff!
    No surprise to me that some of those that are the most chreative and haul inn mother lodes of admiration are in some other ways bereft of ordinary empathy, but three more matters need further exploring — like in all true science: “There are hills beyond them thare hills!”
    1: How long does exceptionalism , i.e. niceness from psychopaths — last, on average?
    2: What about the “banality of evel” such as behauptet by mz. Hanna Arendt and Heidegger: Was he activelly good when he visited Jerusalem and approved of zionizm ca. 1937 — but bad when brought there ca. 1960?
    3: How do nice young men who are not diagnozed as psychopaths get themselves into spreading bombs and napalm on innocent people — or presidents to be like those puerile goodies?t.å.

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