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Neural circuits in the brain that are activated when mitigating criminal sentences

Yamada, Makiko and Camerer, Colin F. and Fujie, Saori and Kato, Motoichiro and Matsuda, Tetsuya and Takano, Harumasa and Ito, Hiroshi and Suhara, Tetsuya and Takahashi, Hidehiko (2012) Neural circuits in the brain that are activated when mitigating criminal sentences. Nature Communications, 3 . Art. No. 759. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC3316876. doi:10.1038/ncomms1757. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20120504-101616408

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Abstract

In sentencing guilty defendants, jurors and judges weigh 'mitigating circumstances', which create sympathy for a defendant. Here we use functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure neural activity in ordinary citizens who are potential jurors, as they decide on mitigation of punishment for murder. We found that sympathy activated regions associated with mentalising and moral conflict (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus and temporo-parietal junction). Sentencing also activated precuneus and anterior cingulate cortex, suggesting that mitigation is based on negative affective responses to murder, sympathy for mitigating circumstances and cognitive control to choose numerical punishments. Individual differences on the inclination to mitigate, the sentence reduction per unit of judged sympathy, correlated with activity in the right middle insula, an area known to represent interoception of visceral states. These results could help the legal system understand how potential jurors actually decide, and contribute to growing knowledge about whether emotion and cognition are integrated sensibly in difficult judgments.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms1757 DOIArticle
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3316876/PubMed CentralArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Camerer, Colin F.0000-0003-4049-1871
Additional Information:© 2012 Nature Publishing Group. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. Received 24 October 2011; Accepted 21 February 2012; Published 27 March 2012. We thank T. Kouchiyama for his advice in designing the task, and K. Suzuki and I. Izumida for their help as clinical research coordinators. This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI 22791156, 23680045, MEXT Tamagawa University GCOE, MEXT SRPBS, MEXT KAKENHI 23011005, 23120009. Author contributions: M.Y. and H.T. designed the experiment. M.Y. and F.S. prepared and conducted the experiment. M.Y. analysed the data and wrote the paper. C.F.C. edited the manuscript. H.T. coordinated subject recruitment. All authors discussed the results.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)22791156
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23680045
Tamagawa UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)UNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23011005
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23120009
Subject Keywords:Biological sciences; Neuroscience
PubMed Central ID:PMC3316876
DOI:10.1038/ncomms1757
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120504-101616408
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20120504-101616408
Official Citation:Yamada, M. et al. Neural circuits in the brain that are activated when mitigating criminal sentences. Nat. Commun. 3:759 doi: 10.1038/ncomms1757 (2012).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:31303
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 May 2012 18:51
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 19:50

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