Increased executive functioning, attention, and cortical thickness in white-collar criminals

Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. .
Human Brain Mapping (Impact Factor: 5.97). 12/2012; 33(12). DOI: 10.1002/hbm.21415
Source: PubMed


Very little is known on white-collar crime and how it differs to other forms of offending. This study tests the hypothesis that white-collar criminals have better executive functioning, enhanced information processing, and structural brain superiorities compared with offender controls. Using a case-control design, executive functioning, orienting, and cortical thickness was assessed in 21 white-collar criminals matched with 21 controls on age, gender, ethnicity, and general level of criminal offending. White-collar criminals had significantly better executive functioning, increased electrodermal orienting, increased arousal, and increased cortical gray matter thickness in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, somatosensory cortex, and the temporal-parietal junction compared with controls. Results, while initial, constitute the first findings on neurobiological characteristics of white-collar criminals. It is hypothesized that white-collar criminals have information-processing and brain superiorities that give them an advantage in perpetrating criminal offenses in occupational settings. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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    • "The perspective of a wide-ranging contribution from evolutionary psychology has already captured the imagination of crime scientists (Roach and Pease, 2013), though reminders that adaption is an onerous explanatory concept, and that accounts of ultimate (evolutionary) causes must be accompanied by an understanding of proximal (e.g., neuropsychological) mechanisms, should be heeded (de Waal, 2002). In criminology, embryonic comparative research into the executive functioning of white collar criminals (Raine et al., 2012) hints at the possibility of tailoring prevention technologies by offending type. Executive functioning—self-regulation, but also the functions which underpin cognitive adaptability and flexibility— is likely to be a fruitful area of research for CS should it seek to account more deeply for the failure of many criminals to displace. "
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    ABSTRACT: A recent disciplinary offshoot of criminology, crime science (CS) defines itself as "the application of science to the control of crime." One of its stated ambitions is to act as a cross-disciplinary linchpin in the domain of crime reduction. Despite many practical successes, notably in the area of situational crime prevention (SCP), CS has yet to achieve a commensurate level of academic visibility. The case is made that the growth of CS is stifled by its reliance on a model of decision-making, the Rational Choice Perspective (RCP), which is inimical to the integration of knowledge and insights from the behavioral, cognitive and neurosciences (CBNs). Examples of salient developments in the CBNs are provided, as regards notably multiple-system perspectives of decision-making and approaches to person-environment interaction. Short and long-term benefits of integration for CS are briefly outlined.
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