Child brain scans to pick out future criminals

London: In what echoes Hollywood science fiction movie `Minority Report` which focussed on detection of pre-crime, criminologists have claimed that brain scans could help pick up violent tendencies in children as young as four.

Two leading criminologists, who have put forward the theory, say by predicting which children have the potential to be trouble-makers, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Prof Adrian Raine, one of the two British criminologists, argued that abnormal physical brain make-up could be a cause of criminality as well as helping to predict it, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.

His studies have shown that psychopaths and criminals have smaller areas of the brain such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, both of which regulate and control emotion and behaviour.

He also believes a lack of conditioning to fear punishment which can be measured in toddlers before disruptive behaviour is apparent, could also be a strong indicator.

Another criminologist, Dr Nathalie Fontaine, argued that children as young as four exhibited "callous unemotional traits" such as lack of guilt and empathy that could also suggest future bad behaviour.