Christian Long

Jim Fallon: Exploring the Mind of a Killer

In TED Talks on April 13, 2010 at 8:33 am

Reflection by SARAH C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jim Fallon:  Exploring the Mind of a Killer

Jim Fallon studies the behavior of psychopathic killer’s brains. He compares their brains to “normal” human brain and has found that there is always one or two things wrong with the killer’s brain. One may think that it all about the environment that which the killer has grown up in that makes a psychopathic behave the way they do. Others may say that’s its just how they are born. Both theories are proven to be true.

Jim’s studies show that all the psychopathic killers had damage to their orbital cortex. This part of the brain is located right above the eyes. But each brain he examined has always been a little different. They always had other damages to the brain as well. The gene that triggers violence in the brain is called the MAOA gene. Normal people have this gene as well. MAOA is a sex linked gene, transfers through the X chromosomes. This is probably why mostly men are psychopathic. Girls get one X chromosome from their mother and one X chromosome from their father; therefore the X chromosomes dilute each other.

This past year Jim went to Israel to talk to people about how they are making a generation of psychopathic killers. Seeing and being apart of violence at a young age can transform kids into killers. If the child has the MAOA gene and has gone through something traumatic, they are at a higher risk at being a psychopath. Because children are growing up in a place where there is constant violence, they are creating a generation of killers.

It turns out that Jim’s family carries the MAOA gene. He did some research on his family’s history and found that seven men in his family that have been psychopath killers. He also found out that it is likely to have three murders every century. Jim’s father and three uncles are fine and so are Jim’s children, but he is worries about his grandchildren. “There is going to be bad news somewhere and we don’t know where is going to pop up”.

When I started watching this video I was confused, but after watching it a couple times I saw how it was really interesting.

Something that caught my eye is that you get the X chromosome from your mother, and that is why most boys get this gene. Also before hitting puberty you should not see some violence, and stress because it triggers this gene. I really liked how Mr. Fallon brought up his past family members because he tells how the first murder of a mother by a son happened to be in his family, and many people in his family had murdered people. It really shows that normal families can also carry this gene.


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