Paedophile brain: Red areas show where white matter content is
Scans have shown that paedophilia may be the result of
faulty connections in the brain.
Researchers used sophisticated MRI scans to compare the
brains of paedophiles and non-sexual criminals.
Paedophiles had significantly less of a substance called
"white matter", responsible for wiring the different parts of
the brain together.
The study, by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in
Toronto, appears in the Journal of Psychiatry Research.
" Not being able to choose your sexual
interests doesn't mean you can't choose what you
Dr James Cantor
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
The study follows work by Yale University which uncovered
differences in the thought patterns of paedophiles.
They team found activity in parts of paedophiles' brains were
lower than in other volunteers when shown adult, erotic
It had been widely thought that paedophilia was triggered by
childhood trauma or abuse.
However, the condition has also been linked to low IQ,
suggesting a possible link to brain development. Paedophiles are
also three times more likely to be left-handed.
Lead researcher Dr James Cantor said the latest study found a
signficant lack of white matter connecting six different areas
of the brain all known to play a role in sexual arousal.
His theory is that the lack of adequate wiring between the
different centres results in paedophiles not being able to
differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate sexual
However, Dr Cantor stressed the latest study did not suggest
that paedophiles could not be held criminally responsible for
He said: "Not being able to choose your sexual interests
doesn't mean you can't choose what you do."
Dr Narender Ramnani, an expert in cognitive neuroscience at
Royal Holloway University of London, was surprised by the
He said: "Environmental factors cause changes in the
structure of the brain, so it is not clear whether these
differences occur because of environmental factors, or whether
these are in fact innate developmental traits that make people
susceptable to such traits."
A total of 127 men participated in the study; approximately
equal numbers of paedophiles and non-sexual offenders.