Yu Gao, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Brooklyn College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New York
The Biological Roots Of Crime: Use Of Basic Neurobiological Measures In Criminological Research
Although important progress has been made in delineating replicable psychosocial risk factors for antisocial and criminal behavior, interest in the neurobiological correlates of crime and violence has increased in recent years. This may be partly due to the development of new technologies including brain imaging, molecular genetics, as well as the increasingly easier application of psychophysiological approaches alongside the computer revolution. In this talk I will focus on two important neurobiological measures, namely electrodermal activity and resting heart rate measurement, and on how these measures can play an important role in criminological research. Since both measures can be recorded relatively easily, they are especially valuable to researchers attempting to explore the biological bases of antisocial behavior from a developmental perspective. These neuroscientific approaches may benefit the field of criminology in several important ways, from assessing the empirical validity of criminological theories to improving the effectiveness of correctional intervention programs.
Yu Gao joined Brooklyn College in fall 2010 after having spent two years as a postdoc researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and prior to that, five years as a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California. The overarching goal of her research is to identify neurobiological biomarkers for disruptive behavior disorders in children and criminal behavior in adults. Techniques she uses in her research program include autonomic and central nervous system psychophysiology, neuropsychology, and familial and extra-familial psychosocial and environmental processes.