Many of the worst offenders in the prison systems seem to have a deficiency in the development of the amygdala. They can recognize portrayed emotion, but do not feel them. Reisel believes that neurogenesis, and restorative justice programs hold out real hope for change.

Why you should listen:

He completed his PhD in Neuroscience in 2005, investigating how learning rewires the brain. Since then, his research has been concerned with the effect of life events on gene function. Daniel is currently training to become an accredited restorative justice facilitator with the UK Restorative Justice Council.

Who is he:

Daniel Reisel grew up in Norway but settled in the UK in 1995. He works as a hospital doctor and as a research fellow in epigenetics at University College London.


  1. What were the findings from MRI scans of the prisoners from Wormwood Scrubs?
  1. How early in life does the sense of empathy form?
  1. What happens to mice raised alone in a box? What does this tell us about human incarceration?
  1. Neurogenesis is a label for what? Why was this thought impossible for many years?
  1. What does glucocorticoid hormones do in the brain? What produces them?
  1. Seventy percent of serious offenders reoffend after their release. Reisel offers us a three part idea to reduce this. What are the three parts? Explain to someone why you think this will or wont work?

The neuroscience of restorative justice with Daniel Reisel


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