Monday, June 27, 2011

More Insights Into the Genetic Basis of Crime

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According to an article in the June 19, 2011, New York Times, it was less than two decades ago that the National Institutes of Health withdrew funds from a conference on the genetics of crime after some people complained that the idea smacked of eugenics. But since the human genome was sequenced a decade ago, scientists and criminologists are returning to the subject. For example, the most severe type of antisocial behavior has its onset in childhood and is usually accompanied by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, this antisocial behavior subtype has been linked with a particular variant of a so-called COMT gene. Thus it looks as if the variant may contribute to the antisocial behavior displayed by youth who have the subtype.

But how might the variant lead to antisocial behavior in such youngsters? By impairing social understanding, scientists from the United Kingdom recently found. And this finding may have important implications for treatment and prevention of antisocial behavior in children who both have ADHD and who engage in such behavior, the scientists believe.

More information on this study of antisocial behavior and its implications can be found in Psychiatric News at


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