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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Opinion | Michael Craig Miller

Testing the brain of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Could the biology of violent behavior have played a role in the bombings?

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev probably never imagined leaving his brain to science. But we should suggest the idea to whomever has custody of his remains. Neuroscientists should be given the chance to examine his brain closely.

Consider the story of Charles Whitman. In the early hours of Aug. 1, 1966, he killed his mother, and then his wife. Later that morning, he got organized and purchased firearms and ammunition and brought them, along with his sniper’s skill, to the top of a tower at the University of Texas in Austin. He began shooting and — by the time an Austin policeman’s bullets put him down — he had killed 17 people and wounded 32 others. In the 24 hours before the end of his siege, Whitman wrote several notes, including one requesting an autopsy to determine whether or not something was wrong with his brain.

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