Brain Function Between Pedophiles and Non-pedophiles. Summarize Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

brain function between pedophiles and non-pedophiles. Summarize the evidence in support of this assertion. Propose a study that would advance our knowledge of the topic.

Pedophilia is such a horrific crime; it is difficult to rationally evaluate the objective medical evidence that can give clues as to why it occurs. However, recent scientific evidence indicates that there are specific biological components of the brain that can cause a predisposition to develop pedophilia. This is helpful in answering the mystery of why this crime, which is widely condemned in a variety of cultures, has remained such a persistent blight upon society throughout the ages.

Using MRIs, scientists have noted that pedophiles and non-pedophiles exhibit the neurological signs of arousal in a different fashion. In the visual cortex of the brain, "a stronger visual analysis happens as soon as an adult heterosexual man sees a woman of the same age. The exact same regions activate in a pedophile's brain when they see a naked child" (Hajasch 2013). This has expanded the ability of modern science to understand the condition and complicated the notion that pedophilia is only a crime. The MRI evidence indicates that it is a disorder as well of a psychological nature: much like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the brain activity of pedophiles is notably different than non-pedophiles. Before MRIs, the study of pedophiles was limited to those persons who acted on their impulses and who were apprehended by law enforcement, but via brain scans we are able to see that arousal response patterns are abnormal even in persons who do not act upon their cravings. "According to the new American psychiatric classification system, a person is only classified as a pedophile if that person acts on their sexual attraction to children - or at least suffers from the fact that they have this attraction…If he has this attraction without abusing a child, then we can call it a sexual orientation" (Hajasch 2013). MRIs enable scientists to study this abnormal 'orientation' versus solely view neurological differences between a criminal and legal perspective.

This focus on orientation and brain structure also enables pedophiles to more easily be segmented for research studies, in terms of how they differ from the population as a whole. For example, pedophiles have an IQ of eight points lower than non-pedophiles, and the lower the IQ, the younger the victim's age (Hajasch 2013). This could indicate evidence of possible brain trauma or prenatal or post-natal issues that affect brain development. Pedophiles are also more likely to be left-handed than the general population (Cantor 2008). Their stature tends to be smaller and they are statistically more likely to have suffered a blow to the head as a child (Hajasch 2013). Once again, although no single characteristic is universally associated with the tendency to become a pedophile, an amalgam of these characteristics indicates fundamental problems in the trajectory of normal development.

Of course, these facts should be assessed with a certain degree of caution, given that not every person who is left-handed or of shorter than normal stature becomes a pedophile. There is no 'smoking gun' characteristic of a pedophile; either in terms of a personal character profile that is visible or even for many aspects of MRI scans not visible to the naked eye. However, researchers have also noted that short stature and left-handedness are both linked to exposure of higher levels of toxins in the womb due to smoking and poor nutrition, which could thus likewise be contributing factors in predisposing someone to become a pedophile (Lloyd 2007). In particular, hand preference is notable for being something that develops in utero, supporting the notion that pedophilic brains may have genetic causes. "Handedness is determined by brain organization and is determined largely before birth (fetuses show…

Sources Used in Document:


Cantor, J. (2008). Understanding research on pedophilia. ASW Forum. Retrieved:

Hajasch, F. (2012). Scientists find brain differences in pedophiles vs. non-pedophiles. DW.


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