A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry describes how the use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery, or fMRI, is able to detect and diagnose pedophilia with greater accuracy than current options.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-10-brain-scans-pedophiles.html#jCp
A fascinating and relatively new application of neuroscience, this study purports to show that pedophilic tendencies can indeed be sussed out with a scan. It throws open the broader ethical question, though, of what other tendencies can be detected with a neural scan, and whether a tendency in and of itself is enough to warrant suspicion or discrimination.
Advances in human brain imaging have provided us with far more detailed information about both social and emotional recognition pathways in the brain. We also are beginning to understand the substrates involved in romantic attraction and social bonds. Comparing this with the more extensive research that has often been carried out on other mammalian species strongly suggests extensive evolutionary conservation of many of the basic mechanisms operating within the social brain that regulate discrimination of individual identity, interpretation of emotion cues and even mate attraction.
Previous studies have induced emotions through the use of visual scenes, or, less commonly, through autobiographic events. As well, they have compared positive emotional states with negative ones. Here we have for the first time tried to explore the neural correlates of personal relationships; in addition, we have compared two positive emotional states.
By showing that a unique set of interconnected areas becomes active when humans view the face of someone who elicits a unique and characteristic set of emotions, we have shown that underlying one of the richest experiences of mankind is a functionally specialised system of the brain
Providing an understanding of the neural, humoral and genetic factors that control social recognition and attraction, communication and interpretation of emotional state and the formation of long-term emotional bonds is of key importance for human mental health and well-being. However, unlocking the secrets of these different aspects of the social brain presents a significant challenge to Neuroscience, since a broad spectrum of different behaviours and brain systems are involved together with a multitude of complex interactions between them.
Given the complexity of the sentiment of romantic love, it was not surprising to find that the activity was within regions of the brain found to be active in other emotional states, even if the pattern of activity evoked here is unique.
In what has been dubbed Barry Komisaruk's "orgasm lab" scientists are discovering that female sexual pleasure can be attained not only by touch but also by simply imagining the sexual stimulation of erogenous body parts. Komisaurk has been studying female orgasms for more than 20 years and uses high-tech brain scanning imaging technology known as functional MRI to peer deep into the brains of his female volunteers to find out how and why pleasure centers in the brain are activated.
But as a wealth of imaging studies highlight, the neural alchemy continues throughout life as we mature and forge friendships, dabble in affairs, succumb to romantic love, choose a soul mate.
As imaging studies by the U.C.L.A. neuroscientist Naomi Eisenberger show, the same areas of the brain that register physical pain are active when someone feels socially rejected. That’s why being spurned by a lover hurts all over the body, but in no place you can point to.