Spain Conducted Experiments on People in Prison

Scientists in Spain have been experimenting on people trapped in prison. The human experiments involved placing electrodes on the men’s foreheads and sending a current into their brains, targeting the prefrontal cortex. The procedure used on 41 men held in prison is known as transcranial direct current stimulation or tDCS. The electric current was sent into the men’s heads for 15 minutes a day for three days.

The prefrontal cortex covers the front part of the frontal lobe. This region of the brain is implicated in thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals, planning complex cognitive behavior, decision making, personality and social behavior. The goal of applying the electricity to the men’s brains was to reduce their perceived level of aggression.

A planned follow up experiment has reportedly been put on hold. The scientists were going to follow a similarly disturbing procedure in an inherently coercive environment similar to the previous experiment. The follow up experiment was planning to include students before it was delayed due to ethics approval issues.



Photo: “TDCS administration” by “Yokoi and Sumiyoshi. 2015” is licensed under CC BY 4.0

One comment

  1. These experiments are good and helpful. They should continue. PFC tDCS improves brain function and moral reasoning — if it was an option, I would volunteer. If PFC tDCS could be used to reduce prison sentences, it could help a lot of prisoners become freer sooner. It could help the prison system focus less on revenge and more on healing.

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