Hey regular Monday.
Famed amnesia case, K.C. died last week. Having lost both hippocampuses after a motorcycle accident, he was somehow able to hold on to some memories, though “devoid of all context and emotion”… and his identity.
That’s actually a common theme in the neuroscience of accidents. It’s easy to see the victims of brain damage as reduced or diminished, and they are in some ways. But much of what they feel from moment to moment is exactly what you or I feel, and there’s almost nothing short of death that can make you forget who you are. Amid all the fascinating injuries in neuroscience history, you’ll come across a lot of tales of woe and heartbreak. But there’s an amazing amount of resiliency in the brain, too. [via]
Guess who loves their job today?
You cant front on my mom’s brackets, she’s ↑ 90%. Also, she’s actively picking fights w. Mich fans online right now. This explains a lot about me, Mr. Silver.
Just picked out a crime (harassment), years on the X, rate on the Y, color of dismissals in green, looked up what caused the spike in the mid 90s (new harassment law) and they ya go. Crime reporting soared - but what’s that mean in terms of convictions?
We have 9.8 million crime records from NYC, and 3.1 from Houston…pick some crimes, set your parameters, see what you can find and let me know. You can do it here.
We are processing 5.3 million data points from Miami, and the entire states of New Mexico and Alabama are up next.
"Don’t let the government use your disgust or fear to gain a conviction" is a terribly clever thing for a defense attorney to say, and here’s why.
I’ve covered a couple cases just like this, similar in nature with the same legal defense. In 2011, the first case where I highlighted the fantasy vs conspiracy argument, was the Florida man™ known as the puppeteer, (you’d be hard pressed to have a more fitting and creepier moniker, yeah?). I later took down the affidavit detailing his conversations with co-conspirators, because it was so graphic & gross, and from someone who never blinks twice, it was disturbing, you guys.
The argument, as horrible as it sounds, is that the in-depth planning, recipe swapping on forums, equipment purchases, the knock-out drug research, the building of a torture rooms or outfitting crib-sized metal boxes with cameras and mics, is all made just to enhance the fantasy of kidnapping, raping, torturing and eating a woman or child, but you can’t convict someone of a crime based purely on their thoughts. So, the prosecutor’s job is to convince the jury that the psychological fantasy has crossed the line and meets the legal requirements to convict on conspiracy charges. That’s the background.
The part that interests me related to the quote above, is a couple of studies that highlight neurobiology, consciousness, emotions and decision-making.
Common to many mammalians, the limbic system is a set of anatomical structures involved in emotions… this system includes the prefrontal cortex—where emotions access consciousness—as well as the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus. The hypothalamus and its extension, the pituitary gland, causes the visceral manifestations associated with these emotions. [via]
Those are the players behind the scenes, we hear something, it hits us in the hoo-hah (located in the limbic system) and a bunch of circuits volley with each other, drum up emotions, which process along, chum up with our reasoning, and serve up some kind of determination. Which we feel pretty confident about, right? But
Legal decisions often require logical reasoning about the mental states of people who perform gruesome behaviors. [this study used] functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how brain regions implicated in logical reasoning are modulated by emotion and social cognition during legal decision-making. (…) Neuroimaging results indicate that brain regions active during logical reasoning respond less to crimes weak in disgust and biological descriptions of personality, demonstrating the impact of emotion and social cognition on logical reasoning mechanisms necessary for legal decision-making. [via]
Of course the defense lawyer’s quote was just a common plea to the jury, but I’m not sure she knew how right she was to try it, and I think if she looses her case, it’s because the state emphasized the grotesqueness (rightly so) and the defense failed to dehumanize her client with biological reasoning.
Bulldog and homemade tonic.