The Brain & Offending Behaviour
The genetic basis of many psychiatric and behavioural conditions is widely known but some aberrant and anti-social behaviour may be caused by chronic deficiencies of crucial micronutrients that disrupt the normal functions of the mind. Some inherited psychiatric problems may also respond to appropriate micronutrient supplements. Humans require at least forty micronutrients of which perhaps eighteen contribute to neurological functions that would be damaged by a sustained deficiency.
Of these, the “essential fatty acids” are of special interest because of their structural role in the brain and their hormone-like activities in nerve maintenance. One essential fatty acid (docosahexaenoic acid, DHA) is particularly concentrated in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain mediates key social interactions including resolution of conflicting thoughts, suppression of instincts for identifying socially unacceptable behaviour and visualisation of consequences of actions. Micronutrient deficits that occur during foetal development because of maternal malnutrition add another dimension to the problem as the damage done may be irreversible, causing premature age-related diseases and possibly psychiatric disorders.
IFBB began its life as Natural Justice supporting research in the Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution which showed a marked improvement in behaviour of those on active nutrient supplements compared with those on a placebo. The results of a larger-scale replication of this study in 3 Prisons (2 in England, 1 in Scotland) are currently being analysed.
One of our aims is to support research on nutritional deficits that contribute to aberrant behaviour and to explore interventions that might lead to improved self-control and reduced anti-social behaviour.