Why are you not a Psychopath? Explained neurologically.

Why are you not a Psychopath? Explained neurologically.

A part of your brain that defines who you are and without it you would become the deadliest criminal you could imagine.

Shubham Gupta's photo
Shubham Gupta
·Jan 1, 2022·

5 min read

Frontal Cortex
That's the part of the brain that makes you "you". Kind of. Read this interesting story to find out.

Story

A young teen committed his first murder at age 13. Later on he grew into a man with wrath. He used to bring women to his house, captivate them, brutally beat them and rape with no mercy. But that's not the craziest part. If the girl survives his torture, at the end of the week he would drive her back to her home and give her his phone number and say:

Thanks a lot. It was a wonderful time being with you. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll be absolutely thrilled to meet you again. You can call my number anytime, we can have a great talk.

That's who you call a Psychopath. But, he was not given a death penalty. Why you ask? For that you'll have to know the reason why he was the way he was.

His life history contained a major accident. When he was 5, he met an accident after which he was in coma for 2 months. An MRI revealed severe brain damage in his frontal cortex. And with that information, psychologists started to connect the dots. Take this:

Humans as a species have the biggest and the most developed frontal cortex. But it doesn't fully develop until the age of 25. It is also the part of the brain with the minimum genetic influence and highest environment dependence.

Implications

So, what are the functions and implications of this fascinating part of the brain.

Learning

When you learn something new, say you are a 3 year old kid who doesn't know what to do when you feel an urge too poo 💩. So, your parents teach you to go to the toilet and when you, do they give you a chocolate 🍫 as a positive reinforcement. Now, when you feel like you need to go to the washroom, your frontal cortex activates, it tells you the right thing to do in this scenario. So you go to the washroom. But does that mean even now, when you feel like you need to take a relief, your frontal cortex activates every time?

No, it doesn't. When a task becomes repetitive enough, frontal cortex is like, Hey, its taking too much energy to do this cause this child needs to go to the washroom every half an hour! Can you please make this automatic so I can focus on other things? That's exactly what happens. If you play too much chess, your frontal cortex is like, it's getting too much for me to think every time I see a chess board and predict 10 steps ahead what could happen. Autonomous Brain, can you take this work please, I'll share the details.

Practice makes a man perfect can also be written as Practice transfers the heavy lifting of conscious thinking from frontal cortex to the autonomous system of the brain and share details so that it can happen without consuming much energy.

You are free to tweet it, just don't forget to mention @brainspoof.

Sleep

During your sleep, you have a bunch of phases. One of them is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During this time you dream and not so surprisingly, MRI scans suggest that your Frontal Cortex is almost inactive during this time. Considering this, its not so surprising why you do things that you never could or never would if you were awake.

Aggression and Sex

1 out of every 4 people who are given death penalty have some form of damage to their frontal cortex. Its the part of the brain that acts like your mom. Telling you when's the right time to do something. Read this story

When I was about 11 years old, I had a friend of mine. We were close friends but he was sort of irritating. he used to often jump on my back and he was a few Kgs heavier than me at the time. I hated it from the bottom of my heart. It used to feel like a hippo jumped on you from nowhere. One day, I was having my lunch and he jumped over my back. I was so fucking agitated that I held him by his head and threw him off on the floor, flat!

You enjoyed the story because there was aggression and it was in the right context of it. Now, imagine if I had done the same thing with someone who just broke his leg and was on my back to take support. If I'd do the same thing, you would not leave a chance to slap me. That's your frontal cortex and anterior cingulate in play. Just to get this off, Anterior cingulate is the "heart" of your brain. It is what lights up when you see you mom getting an injection or when you see that poor puppy shivering in cold outside.

Your Frontal Cortex is what's responsible to give meaning and the right context when you feel aggressive or sexually aroused. A damage to it will make you angry and sexual in all sorts of inappropriate environments. I think you are able to connect the dots now.

Conclusion

Frontal Cortex is the part of your brain that takes care of giving the right context to your behavior. It helps you learn and do new things until they become repetitive enough. In short, it makes you, "you". Kind of.

 
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