The recent study conducted by Finnish scientists has revealed that five to ten percent of violent crime in the country is likely to be a result of two separate genes. These genes have the ability to modify a person’s brain activity. Thus, these two separate genes might be linked to violent crime and could potentially lead to a biologically-backed serious criminality.
It is important to note that the findings are not entirely new as there have been previous research which showed that genes impact criminal behavior. However, such research has had its fair share of limitations as pointed out by experts who had concluded that human behavior is more complex. But, according to Jan Tiihonen, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who conducted the research which has been published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal, there seems to be surmount scientific evidence which points towards genes influencing violent criminality.
Professor Tiihonen believes that if these two genes had not existed, the violent crime rate in Finland would have been anywhere from five to ten percent less. But, more research still needs to be done to determine what is the mechanism which causes an individual to commit violent crime. The professor also mentioned that is possible that there are hundreds of other genes which also have an impact, but, to a lesser degree. Hence, a test of criminality cannot be based on the study alone.
The genomes of about 895 offenders were analyzed and a variant of a gene was found. Monamine oxidase A (MAOA) is the said variant which is an enzyme found in the brain. It affects the neurotransmitter dopamine. This gene is more common among those criminals that have committed the most violent crimes. These criminals have been found to commit 10 serious offenses or more unlike the remaining population. This low-activity variant of the gene is more common among repeat offenders. Therefore, Tiihonen believes that genes play a vital role in controlling or determining violent criminal behavior. The MAOA gene is also called the warrior gene as it leads to aggressiveness.
Cadherin 13 (CDH13) is the second gene that is involved in brain cells communication. It is linked to impulsive behavior and lack of control thereof. The gene is linked with violent behavior. Thus, the study has concluded that the genes MAOA and CHD13 are linked to severe violent crime in the Scandinavian country.
The study reveals that genes play a great role in criminal activity. However, another study conducted in 2002 which analyzed 400 men showed that those that were subject to child abuse and had inherited the MAOA low-activity gene were twice as likely to be violent. Keeping in view of this study, Professor Tiihonen finds the Finish study on genes to be unable to determine the effects of upbringing on genetic inheritance. Thus, the Finnish study is a step in the right direction.