Ted Talk, Mind of a serial killer

I was drawn to this topic mainly because I have always been fascinated with Murder. I know that sounds terrible and psychotic, but there is a reason why shows like forensic files and murder mystery novels are popular, and that is that murder is interesting. The Ted talk itself was not as interesting in my opinion but it was done quite well and was very informative. During the talk Jim Fallon explained how he studied the brains of psychopathic killers. He talked about three main things that contribute to having the mind of a serial killer. The first contributor to serial killers is genes and how men inherit a specific gene from their mothers that causes them to resist the effects of serotonin. The second was brain damage and how most serial killers have the same specific parts of the brain that are damaged. The last contributor was the environment and how it can cause said genes to become expressed in the individual. Jim Fallon stated during the talk that all three of these things must come together at the right time to cause someone to become a murderer.

The most intriguing part of this talk was the idea that a portion of the population could have the genes to become serial killers. It made me wonder if anyone I know or even anyone in my family could have been or could be murderers. The presenter seems exceptionally trustworthy due to his credentials as a professor and researcher of neuroscience.

A research question I thought of after this Ted talk is weather or not cannibals show the same qualities as serial killers such as the specific brain damage and genes. I’m curious as to if they perceive the people they eat as people or as just another meal. I would conduct this research in the same manner as Jim Fallon. I would have someone look at the brains and genes of the cannibals without knowing that they are cannibals, and determine if they have similar brain damage and genes as serial killers.


One thought on “Ted Talk, Mind of a serial killer

  1. Murder is a very uneasy topic to talk about, but I do agree with you that it is very interesting nonetheless. I enjoyed reading your view on this topic and how you applied this research to a question of your own. In my opinion I have always seen murder to be an influence of both biological and social characteristics, but I have never considered brain damage as one of the implications. This topic kind of applies to that of nurture vs. nature because even though there could be genes that can cause someone to become a murder like the TED Talk suggested, there are also various things in the environment that could trigger humans to respond in a certain way. In class we also talked about neurotransmitters which is one of the correlations that was mentioned in the TED Talk. I would have expected Dopamine to be present in the development of a murder instead of Serotonin. I expected this because Dopamine is the reward chemical in the brain. The more the person murders the more satisfaction they receive; therefore, making serial killers more triggered to continue killing as a reward. Serotonin on the other hand is the chemical that regulates mood. If there is such gene that resists the effects of Serotonin that would mean that the person would not have a way to regulate their mood which could cause them to be short-tempered and more drawn to kill if not satisfied. You also mentioned that brain damage is another cause that triggers people to become murders. This could be observed through neuroimaging such as a CT scan. A Computed Topography (CT) can help observe the structure of the brain in a patient in order to observe if they suffer from brain damage. If all murders are discovered to have brain damage then that could support the idea that brain damage is a true factor in leading someone to become a murder. Neuroimaging could also be used to support your idea that cannibals could also have brain damage that could trigger them to see people as a meal rather than a person. The behavior of the patients suffering from damage could also be observed in order to see if the brain damage is having an effect on the behavior of these people. In all I think that all three factors are responsible for effecting the behavior of people that in turn could cause them to become murders.


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