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Brain scans used to detect paedophilia

The Local · 11 Oct 2011, 16:01

Published: 11 Oct 2011 16:01 GMT+02:00

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In the study, which appears this month in the Archive of General Psychiatry, the scientists showed pictures of naked people of different ages to a group of diagnosed paedophiles and a normal control group. The researchers then scanned the subjects’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The differences in brain activity could pinpoint who was a paedophile and who was not at a rate of roughly 90 percent, according to the study.

The research, which involved professors from universities in Kiel, Berlin and Denmark, may have ground-breaking uses in the treatment of sex offenders, said Jorge Ponseti, one of the study's authors at the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel.

It is important to verify whether a first-time sex offender is truly a paedophile – in other words having an inherent attraction to prepubescent children – or merely committed a crime of opportunity, because treatment strategies are different for both groups Ponseti said.

“You can offer a paedophile drugs to lower sex drive or teach him in psychotherapy to avoid situations involving children, but you waste your time if you explain how to have a relationship with adult women,” Ponseti said. “You can approach someone who is not a true paedophile differently. It is important to know what kind of sex offender this is.”

Current techniques to determine whether someone is a paedophile, such as by using a device attached to the penis to measure arousal levels, are notoriously imprecise and not widely used in Germany. Some paedophiles are able to fool such devices by controlling their arousal levels.

Ponseti said he thinks the fMRI technique will be much more precise, although researchers are currently developing another study to see whether its possible for paedophiles to somehow fool it.

“Brain response to an emotional stimulus is very fast and it happens most likely before conscious acknowledgement of a picture takes place, so I think it is unlikely that faking will be successful,” Ponseti said.

Story continues below…

Moises Mendoza



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Your comments about this article

18:17 October 11, 2011 by JDee
"Current techniques to determine whether someone is a paedophile, such as by using a device attached to the penis to measure arousal levels, are notoriously imprecise and not widely used in Germany. Some paedophiles are able to fool such devices by controlling their arousal levels. " - you are kidding me, so the lunatics are really in charge of the asylum, I thuoght they got rid of this kind of thing after Hitler
23:16 October 11, 2011 by septiSeverus
Wow, seems like history repeating itself?
06:18 October 12, 2011 by auniquecorn
OK, lets form a line to the right, Everyone now. to the right. Don´t care how old you are, just get in line. When we check everyone in germany we´ll start with greece next.

OH but if your full blooded german, you don´t need the test.
08:57 October 12, 2011 by zeddriver
Did I miss something? Did it not say in the article that they showed naked pictures of people of various ages to men being scanned? So. I thought ANY possession of naked pictures of young people is considered child porn and is illegal. So tell me. How does one test someone without breaking the law? Oh! Oh! I know. We are the government. We don't have to follow our own rules.
09:59 October 12, 2011 by murka
fMRI? There are much cheaper techniques available, like measuring the scull with a tailor measure. And Germans were good at them.
18:36 October 14, 2011 by tychonaut
"The test consisted of bringing a highschool junior volleyball team into the room to perform naked erotic dances for the test subjects. Anyone who became aroused was immediately executed by neck-shot."
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