Research Abstract


Neural circuits in the brain that are activated when mitigating criminal sentences

2012年3月27日 Nature Communications 3 : 759 doi: 10.1038/ncomms1757


山田 真希子1,2, Colin F. Camerer3, 藤江 沙織1, 加藤 元一郎4, 松田 哲也5, 高野 晴成1, 伊藤 浩1, 須原 哲也1 & 高橋 英彦1,2,5,6

  1. 独立行政法人 放射線医学総合研究所 分子イメージング研究センター 分子神経イメージング研究グループ
  2. 独立行政法人 科学技術振興機構(JST)戦略的創造研究推進事業さきがけ
  3. カリフォルニア工科大学(米国)
  4. 慶應義塾大学 医学部 精神・神経科学教室
  5. 玉川大学 脳科学研究所
  6. 京都大学 医学部 精神医学教室
In sentencing guilty defendants, jurors and judges weigh 'mitigating circumstances', which create sympathy for a defendant. Here we use functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure neural activity in ordinary citizens who are potential jurors, as they decide on mitigation of punishment for murder. We found that sympathy activated regions associated with mentalising and moral conflict (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus and temporo-parietal junction). Sentencing also activated precuneus and anterior cingulate cortex, suggesting that mitigation is based on negative affective responses to murder, sympathy for mitigating circumstances and cognitive control to choose numerical punishments. Individual differences on the inclination to mitigate, the sentence reduction per unit of judged sympathy, correlated with activity in the right middle insula, an area known to represent interoception of visceral states. These results could help the legal system understand how potential jurors actually decide, and contribute to growing knowledge about whether emotion and cognition are integrated sensibly in difficult judgments.