Criminology Ch. 5 Vocabulary

Human genome
A complete copy of the entire set of human gene instructions.

Genes
Distinct portions of a cell’s DNA that carry coded instructions for making everything the body needs

Chromosomes
Bundles of genes

Neurotransmitters
Chemical substances that facilitate the flow of electrical impulses from one neuron to the next across nerve synapses

Allele
An alternate form of a gene, or any several forms of a gene, usually occurring through mutation

Heritability
A statistical construct that estimates the amount of variation in the traits of a population that is attributable to genetic factors

Epigenetics
The study of chemical reactions that occur within a genome, and which switch parts of the genome on or off at strategic times and locations.

Gene expression
Process by which the coded information that is stored within a gene is used to create a biological product, usually a protein. Also, the manifestation of a trait in an individual carrying the gene or genes that determine that trait.

Frontal brain hypothesis
A perspective that references physical changes in certain parts of the brain to explain criminality.

Neuroplasticity
The ability of the brain to alter it’s structure and function in response to experience.

Hypoglycemia
A medical condition characterized by low blood sugar

Prenatal substance exposure
Fetal exposure to maternal drug and alcohol use. Can significantly increase risk for developmental and neurological disorders.

Hormone
A chemical substance produced by the body that regulates and controls the activity of certain cells or organs.

Testosterone
Primary male sex hormone. Produced in testes, and its function is to control secondary sex characteristics and sexual drive.

Serotonin
A neurotransmitter that is commonly found in the pineal gland, digestive trace, the CNS, and blood platelets.

Biosocial Criminology
Theoretical perspective that sees interaction between biology and the physical and social environments as key to understanding human behavior, including criminality.

Gender ratio problem
The need for an explanation of the fact that the number of crimes committed by men far exceeds the number committed by women in almost all categories.

Sexual selection
Form of natural selection that influences an individual’s ability to find or choose a mate.

Evolutionary perspective
Theoretical approach that (1) seeks to explain behavior with reference to human evolutionary history and (2) recognizes with influence that genes have over human traits.

Evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory
A perspective that holds that (1) the propensity for crime commission evolved among human beings as part of the male reproductive strategy, and (2) a particular neurochemistry that increases probability of criminality among males relative to females.