Originally posted on TED Blog:


Photos: James Duncan Davidson

Photos: James Duncan Davidson

Daniel Reisel is here to talk about our brains. In particular, how we might change them–and how this kind of thinking might just change the tenor of society as a whole.

He introduces us to Joe, who’s 32, and a murderer. Reisel met Joe in Wormwood Scrubs, a high-security prison that houses England’s most dangerous prisoners. On a grant from the UK Department of Health, Reisel visited the jail to study inmates’ brains and try to find out what lay at the root of their behavior. “Was there a neurological cause for their condition?” he asks. “And if there was a neurological cause, could we find a cure?”

Initial research showed that psychopaths like Joe indeed had a different physiological response to emotions such as distress or sadness. “They failed to show the emotions required; they failed to show the physical response. It was as though they…

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