Science has yet to give us the ability to actually predict crime, as depicted in Philip K. Dick's Minority Report, but a new development indicates that neuroscience can indeed offer some predictive solutions when it comes to criminality.
Scientists at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico have released a study that hints that we may now have the ability to accurately detect which convicted criminals are more likely to become repeat offenders. The study mapped the behavior of a group of ex-convicts over the course of four years.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) region of their brains — the area governing decision-making and impulse controls — the lab was able to connect lower ACC activity with increased probability of future criminal activity.
According to the study, ex-convicts with low ACC activity had a 2.6-fold higher rate of rearrest related to all forms of criminal behavior, and a 4.3-fold higher rate for specifically non-violent criminal acts. However, the neuroscientists involved in the study caution that the results of this research are far from conclusive, and it may be years before authorities can rely on this kind of data in any meaningful way.
Nevertheless, it appears that, based on these developments, that the day when law enforcement employs hard science to track and profile entire populations may be inevitable.