September 14th, 2003


Violent Brains

A group of three-year-olds from Mauritius were given an intensive programme of enriched diet, exercise and cognitive stimulation, which included being read to and involved in conversation. By the age of 11 they demonstrated increased brain activity on brain scan read-outs, and by 23 they were 64 per cent less likely than a control group of children not on the programme to have criminal records.

Last week the Home Office launched an unprecedented exercise to chart the extent of such problems over a 24-hour period in Britain, and MPs will this week debate calls for children as young as three to be taught social skills under a national programme similar to the literacy and numeracy hours that take place in schools.

Raine then used magnetic resonance imaging to study the brains of people with less lethal anti-social personality disorders, and found an 11 per cent reduction in the volume of neurons - so-called grey matter - in their prefrontal cortex compared to the average. They also showed lower heart rates and sweated less when stressed, a sign of blunted emotional responses which could affect their ability to empathise with victims.

The research, published in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry, involved 100 Mauritian children and a group of around 350 control subjects not put through the programme. EEGs - scans of brain electrical activity - at the age of 11 found heightened activity compared to their peers: they were less likely to have criminal records and 35 per cent less likely to report having engaged in some criminal activity and got away with it.

The most striking effects were observed in those most malnourished when they started the programme, Raine said, suggesting that the diet - unusually rich in fish - could be the crucial element.

'Could it be the exposure to increased omega 3 fatty acids, which we know are the building blocks of cell membranes, leads to better brain function which we did discern at age 11 - and better outcomes at 23?' said Raine.

Unfortunately, brain scans alone cannot reliably predict violent tendencies.

Raine notes that of a study he completed of 41 murderers, one - a prolific serial killer - differed from the others by not only having an undamaged frontal lobe, but also unusual patterns of activity in other parts of the brain. There was only one other scan like it in Raine's collection - his own.

Excerpted from here

Beep Thunk Thud Ssssssss

Mission was fun last night. At 12:25 I was thinking "What a waste, why did I bother coming out?" and then at 1:45 they started playing what I can only describe as "Dark Techno", which the most excellent DJ then seamlessly combined for over an hour, keeping my arms and legs moving on a fairly constant basis. Not my usual listening tastes, but fantastic to dance to. Khi danced with me for about an hour, but then collapsed (and is still fairly collapsed today).

I meant to make it over the the Holyrood earlier in the evening, but got an opportunity to see "Cypher" which so far gets my award for "Best Film, 2003". (review to follow).

Apparently Nickys was also at The Mission, but despite both of us encountering Cheekbones3 we didn't see each other (or at least, recognise each other). And I just went and looked at pictures of Original_AJ and realised I was dancing next to him for at least ten minutes last night. Bugger, blast and fuck. If I'd known I'd have said hello to people. I think they were hanging around with the slightly older guy who always wears matt-black semi-formal looking clothes and has a small goatee - someone I've been curious about for years as well. I really, really must get around to meeting people more.

The horror!

I was shaving this morning, slipped an chopped a bit of the beard off. So it had to go.

Along the way I decided to see what I'd look like with just a moustache
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