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Recently, a number of newspapers announced an intriguing scientific discovery. The Telegraph reported the discovery of a psychological “root of all evil”, while The Express announced the possibility of a cure for said evil. Villainishness solved on a prescription: what a time to be alive!
If you haven’t already guessed, these headlines are a touch hyperbolic. For starters, we’re talking about evil MICE.
Whether or not the findings can be replicated in humans, what the research actually highlights is fascinating nonetheless. As a quick summary, male mice were trained to act like jerks, fighting and bullying smaller, weaker mice. The scientists tracked brain activity within their tiny mousey skulls, and discovered that the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) activated before they committed a violent act – even when they were just travelling to another compartment to assault a fellow rodent, and before they could see or smell their victim. Their mouse crimes were, in other words, visibly premeditated in a small section of their brains.
The researchers from New York University believe that if this scales up from mouse to man, it might be possible to spot warning signs of human violence – bullying, stalking, sexual or violent assault, you name it. The study’s senior investigator gave the newspapers their dystopian hook by pointing out that theoretically violent behaviour could be controlled, even if it was “a distant possibility,” and only “if related ethical and legal issues could be resolved”.
Read full, original post: Of evil mice and men: Can we blame crime on our genes?