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

Yamada M, Camerer CF, Fujie S, Kato M, Matsuda T, Takano H, Ito H, Suhara T, Takahashi H - Nat Commun (2012)

Bottom Line: We found that sympathy activated regions associated with mentalising and moral conflict (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus and temporo-parietal junction).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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Molecular Neuroimaging, Molecular Imaging Center, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8555, Japan. myamada@nirs.go.jp

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.

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Task design and behavioural performance.(a) Study paradigm. (b) Mean punishment ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=−18.94, P<0.001). (c) Mean sympathy ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=11.82, P<0.001). (d) Correlation between sympathy and punishment ratings for sympathy stories (red circles) and no-sympathy stories (green circles). Error bars indicate s.d.
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f1: Task design and behavioural performance.(a) Study paradigm. (b) Mean punishment ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=−18.94, P<0.001). (c) Mean sympathy ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=11.82, P<0.001). (d) Correlation between sympathy and punishment ratings for sympathy stories (red circles) and no-sympathy stories (green circles). Error bars indicate s.d.

Mentions: Sympathy and no-sympathy scenarios. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects are making hypothetical sentence reduction decisions, in dramatic scenarios adapted from actual murder cases. Sympathy-related brain activity was collected during reading circumstances pertaining to defendants' crimes (Fig. 1a). Only actual Japanese murders were used, so the crime was serious, uniform across trials and lifelike. This simple design was chosen to generate engagement and limit nuisance brain activity due to subtle differences in crimes and plausibility of artificially created scenarios.


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

Yamada M, Camerer CF, Fujie S, Kato M, Matsuda T, Takano H, Ito H, Suhara T, Takahashi H - Nat Commun (2012)

Task design and behavioural performance.(a) Study paradigm. (b) Mean punishment ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=−18.94, P<0.001). (c) Mean sympathy ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=11.82, P<0.001). (d) Correlation between sympathy and punishment ratings for sympathy stories (red circles) and no-sympathy stories (green circles). Error bars indicate s.d.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3316876&req=5

f1: Task design and behavioural performance.(a) Study paradigm. (b) Mean punishment ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=−18.94, P<0.001). (c) Mean sympathy ratings for sympathy and no-sympathy trials (n = 22, paired t-test, t21=11.82, P<0.001). (d) Correlation between sympathy and punishment ratings for sympathy stories (red circles) and no-sympathy stories (green circles). Error bars indicate s.d.
Mentions: Sympathy and no-sympathy scenarios. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects are making hypothetical sentence reduction decisions, in dramatic scenarios adapted from actual murder cases. Sympathy-related brain activity was collected during reading circumstances pertaining to defendants' crimes (Fig. 1a). Only actual Japanese murders were used, so the crime was serious, uniform across trials and lifelike. This simple design was chosen to generate engagement and limit nuisance brain activity due to subtle differences in crimes and plausibility of artificially created scenarios.

Bottom Line: We found that sympathy activated regions associated with mentalising and moral conflict (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus and temporo-parietal junction).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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Molecular Neuroimaging, Molecular Imaging Center, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8555, Japan. myamada@nirs.go.jp

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.

Show MeSH