What if it were possible to reduce someone’s desire to commit a violent act? Could we harness such a technique to reduce crime? While this scenario may seem like the stuff of fantasy, it may not be too far from reality.
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, an international team of researchers found that by stimulating the prefrontal cortex—a region of the brain that controls complex ideas and behaviors—they were able to reduce a person’s intention to commit a violent act by more than half.
The minimally invasive, low-risk technique, known as transcranial direct-current stimulation, was also shown to increase the perception that acts of physical and assault were morally wrong—with this effect noticeable even after just one 20-minute session.
“The ability to manipulate such complex and fundamental aspects of cognition and behavior from outside the body has tremendous social, ethical, and possibly someday legal implications,” Roy Hamilton, a neurology professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and senior author of the paper, said in a statement.
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