SCIENCE
02/06/2014 11:41 am ET Updated Feb 06, 2014

Pedophiles' Brain Differences Make Researchers Reconsider Treatment (VIDEO, POLL)

What makes a pedophile?

Research has shown that pedophiles tend to be shorter and less intelligent than the average person, as well as more likely to be left-handed. Now Dr. James Cantor, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a leading expert on pedophilia, says neuroanatomy may play a key role too.

In a new video (seen above) released by a Canadian news program, "The Agenda with Steve Paikin," Cantor describes his work using MRI scans to compare the brains of pedophiles and non-pedophiles.

What did he find? Pedophiles' brains tend to have significantly less white matter. That's the brain's cabling tissue, which connects different parts of the brain together, and enables us to react appropriately to people and situations.

"Instead of evoking the responses that come with perceiving a kid, it's as if it's cross-wired, and when it sees a kid... it's triggering the sex response system instead of the parental nurturing system," Cantor says in the video.

But if pedophilia is all about the brain being "cross-wired," does it make sense to view pedophiles as evil people deserving only our scorn? Cantor doesn't think so.

"We should be creating situations where they can come in, remain anonymous, and receive sex drive reducing medication, or counseling, or group therapy, or whatever is appropriate to the situation we're in," he says in the video. "We need to be able to be dispassionate, and clinical, and think rationally about the situation, rather than giving into our first instinct which is usually shoot first and ask questions later, which is unfortunately a great deal of public policy."

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