The neural signature of emotional memories in serial crimes

Chassy, Philippe (2017) The neural signature of emotional memories in serial crimes. Medical Hypotheses, 108. pp. 31-34. ISSN 0306-9877

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Neural plasticity is the process whereby semantic information and emotional responses are stored in neural networks. It is hypothesized that the neural networks built over time to encode the sexual fantasies that motivate serial killers to act should display a unique, detectable activation pattern. The pathological neural watermark hypothesis posits that such networks comprise activation of brain sites that reflect four cognitive components: autobiographical memory, sexual arousal, aggression, and control over aggression. The neural sites performing these cognitive functions have been successfully identified by previous research. The key findings are reviewed to hypothesise the typical pattern of activity that serial killers should display. Through the integration of biological findings into one framework, the neural approach proposed in this paper is in stark contrast with the many theories accounting for serial killers that offer non-medical taxonomies. The pathological neural watermark hypothesis offers a new framework to understand and detect deviant individuals. The technical and legal issues are briefly discussed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Medical Hypotheses. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Medical Hypotheses, [Vol 108, October 2017] available at
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Philippe Chassy
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 13:49
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2020 13:35

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