In what could turn out to be a ground-breaking step to prevent sexual abuse of children, scientists in Germany have confirmed that paedophiles can be scanned and spotted in the near future, as brains of child abusers are oddly tuned to be attracted to children's faced.
"The critical new finding is that face processing is also tuned to face cues revealing the developmental age that is sexually preferred." says the paper submitted by the team of researchers, led by Dr Jorge Ponseti from Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, has been published in the Royal Society Journal.
The study claims that human faces can motivate either a nurturing characteristic or a sexual one, when looking at pictures of children. In the case of paedophiles, their sexual attraction is directed towards children who are sexually novice.
"Therefore, we hypothesized that brain networks that normally are tuned to mature faces of the preferred gender show an abnormal tuning to sexual immature faces in paedophilia. Here, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to test directly for the existence of a network which is tuned to face cues of sexual maturity", said the study.
Scientists scanned the activity in brains of 56 men, including 24 paedophiles while they were being shown photos of adult men and women and the faces of young boys and girls. The study shows that while looking at pictures of children, brains of paedophiles were most activated.
"In individuals attracted to adults, adult faces activated several brain regions significantly more than child faces. These brain regions comprised areas known to be implicated in face processing, and sexual processing, including occipital areas, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and, subcortically, the putamen and nucleus caudatus. The same regions were activated in paedophiles, but with a reversed preferential response pattern," the scientists added.
This study has shed new light that face processing is adjusted to the age that is sexually prefers along with gender and for the first time, there is a chance to diagnose paedophilia from a young age.
"We could start to look at the onset of paedophilia, which is probably in puberty at about 12 or 14 years old," scientists told Times of India.