Groundbreaking study by Spanish scientists uncovers why wife beaters abuse their partners

Scientists at the University of Granada studied the brains of 20 violent men

LAST UPDATED: 4 May, 2016 @ 12:35

brainA GROUNDBREAKING study by Spanish scientists has revealed vital differences in the brain functions of domestic violence abusers.

Scientists at the University of Granada studied the brains of 20 violent men over three years, some of who were admitted abusers and some who were convicted of different offences.

Each participant was shown selected images of violent content, including fights in football fields, men fighting in the streets and women suffering assaults.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging monitored the men’s cognitive responses by taking images of their brains’ functions.

“The brain of a batterer works differently than other criminals,” explained neuropsychologist and professor Miguel Pérez García, head of research at the University of Granada.

When the abusers were shown the scenes of domestic violence, there were unique changes in their central nervous system.

There was increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and posterior, which is responsible for feeling, emotions and the perception of physical and emotional pain, alongside increased activity in the medial corefrontal cortex, which is responsible for mediating decision making.

This was paired with decreased activity in the upper prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior.

Scientists believe this contrast leads to an emotional instability in abusers.

This instability creates anger, rage, fears of being abandoned or sudden emotional instability stemming from increased anxiety.

Lead scientist Garcia said it is a scientific finding of significance that brings a better understanding of violence against women and the repeat offending of their abusers.

“They see the scenes of violence, even if against women, as unpleasant, but their brain activity is different from other people,” said Garcia.

Their brain is healthy in other anatomical functions, but the way they are exclusively wired can send them into an aggression mode.

Such abusers do not accept that they are responsible for violence against their partner, while up to 45% of them reoffend following treatment.

The researchers are now looking for extra funding to delve further into not only the abusers’ brains but the brains of their victims.

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