Vol. 1, No. 4 , 1995, Page 1&6


A new study adds to growing evidence that brain defects are the rule, not the exception, among murderers.

Pamela Blake and colleagues examined 31 murderers either undergoing appeals, awaiting sentencing for murder, or awaiting trial after confessing to their crimes. Examinations included EEGs, MRIs, and/or CT scans, as well as neuropsychological tests.

The researchers report that "specific neurologic diagnoses could be established in 20 of the 31 subjects," and that some subjects had more than one diagnosis. Diagnoses included fetal alcohol syndrome (five cases), mental retardation or borderline retardation (nine cases), and one case each of "cerebral palsy, hypothyroidism with psychosis, mild cerebral palsy with mental retardation, pituitary microadenoma with acromegaly and borderline mental retardation, hydrocephalus with elevated pressure, and dementia." Two subjects were diagnosed with epilepsy, three with brain injuries, and two with alcohol-induced dementia.

Blake et al. note that of their 31 subjects, "no subject was normal in all spheres." Evidence of frontal lobe abnormalities was found in 64.5%, and 29% appeared to have temporal lobe defects. CT or MRI tests of nine of 19 subjects tested showed brain atrophy or white matter changes. Of 20 individuals undergoing EEGs, eight showed abnormalities.

Eight subjects were diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, four as having dissociative disorder, and nine as having depression. In addition to their medical problems, 83.8% of the subjects had been victims of severe abuse, and 32.3% had been sexually abused.

The group of murderers tested by Blake and colleagues included gang members, rapists, robbers, serial murderers, mass murderers, one subject who killed his infant son, and another who murdered three siblings.

See related story (Crime Times, Vol. 1, No. 4, Page 7).


"Neurologic abnormalities in murderers," Pamela Y. Blake, Jonathan H. Pincus, and Cary Buckner, Neurology, 45, September 1995, pp. 1641-1647. Address: Pamela Y. Blake, Department of Neurology, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Related Articles: [1997, Vol. 2] [2005, Vol. 11]

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