Vol. 6, No. 2, 2000 Page 6

Left hemisphere EEG abnormalities, violence linked

Focal abnormalities of the left brain hemisphere may be associated with violent criminal behavior, according to a study by German researchers.

Frank Pillmann and colleagues evaluated the EEGs of 222 criminal defendants referred for pretrial psychiatric assessment, comparing the EEG findings of violent and nonviolent criminals. One third of the subjects had abnormal EEG readings, and of these, 20 0 had focal abnormalities in the left or right hemisphere.

“There was no connection between the number of violent offenses and EEG abnormalities in general,” Pillmann et al. report. However, in subjects whose EEGs revealed left hemisphere focal abnormalities, the researchers noted “a significant excess of violent t recidivism.” Most of these abnormalities were detected in the temporal lobe. Focal abnormalities of either hemisphere were associated, in a substantial number of subjects, with brain trauma, retardation, or epilepsy.

Pillmann and colleagues say their findings are consistent with several other studies. Among them:

Pillmann et al. say that taken together, these and similar findings “suggest that impairment of left hemisphere functions may enhance the propensity for violent behavior in a subgroup of offenders.”

“Violence, criminal behavior, and the EEG: significance of left hemispheric focal abnormalities,” Frank Pillmann, Anke Rohde, Simone Ullrich, Steffi Draba, Ursel Sannemüller, and Andreas Marneros, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Vol. 11,

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