ABSTRACT

At a neurological level, action decision making is guided by the prefrontal cortex, and different subdivisions of the prefrontal cortex are known to contribute to more reasoned/rational or intuitive/emotive aspects. The aim of this chapter is to assess the relationship between functioning in specifi c subdivisions of the prefrontal cortex and young people’s crime involvement, using data from the Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+), a longitudinal study of more than 700 young people growing up in the UK city of Peterborough. Evidence suggests this relationship is explained by the effects of prefrontal functioning on key personal characteristics infl uencing action perception and choice processes (Ishikawa and Raine, 2003 ; Nigg and Huang-Pollock, 2003 ; Wikström and Treiber, 2007 ). This chapter will explore the relationship between participants’ performance on neurocognitive measures tapping reasoned/rational and intuitive/emotive prefrontal functions; personal characteristics relating to their morality and ability to exercise self-control; and their self-reported and police-recorded crime involvement. The core hypotheses are:

1 more reasoned/rational prefrontal functions will be more strongly associated with the ability to exercise self-control, while more intuitive/emotive functions

will be more strongly associated with personal morality (Treiber, 2011 ; Wikström and Treiber, 2007 );

2 that personal morality may play a more fundamental role in crime involvement than self-control, and hence that intuitive/emotive functions may be more strongly implicated than reasoned/rational functions in criminal decision making, although the latter has tended to receive more attention in criminological theory and research (Wikström, 2010b ).