Studies into the cognitive wiring of sex offenders have long been a source of debate. Recent research led by Jorge Ponseti at the University of Kiel in Germany, however, offers some fairly conclusive proof that there is a neural pattern behind pedophilic behaviors. According to the paper, published in ‘Biology Letters,’ the human brain contains networks that are tuned to face processing, and these networks appear to activate different processing streams of the reproductive domain selectively: nurturing processing in the case of child faces and sexual processing in the case of sexually preferred adult faces. This implies that the brain extracts age-related face cues of the preferred sex that inform appropriate response selection in the reproductive domains: nurturing in the case of child faces and mating in the case of adult faces. Ponseti said that he hoped to investigate this area further by examining whether findings could be emulated when images of children’s faces are the only ones used. This could lead to gauging a person’s predisposition to pedophilia far more simply than any means currently in place. “We could start to look at the onset of pedophilia, which is probably in puberty at about 12 or 14 years [old],” he said. Following the horrors of the Sandusky scandal and the endless conveyor belt of children kidnapped as sex slaves, finding the root of the problem and stopping it in any way possible has never been more important.
Human face processing is tuned to sexual age preferences Biol. Lett. May, 2014 10 5 20140200; doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0200 1744-957X Access requires subscription to Biology Letters.