The Criminal Brain

Why do some people live lawful lives, while others gravitate toward repeated criminality? Do people choose to be moral or immoral, or is morality simply a genetically inherited function of the brain, like mathematical ability? Research suggests certain regions of the brain influence moral reasoning. Dr. Octavio Choi will explore how emerging neuroscience challenges long-held assumptions underlying the basis—and punishment—of criminal behavior.

Octavio Choi, M.D., Ph.D.

Octavio Choi, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Choi is an assistant professor in the public psychiatry division of Oregon Health & Science University, and director of the Forensic Evaluation Service at the Oregon State Hospital. He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor of science in a self-designed major of computational neuroscience. He received his medical and doctorate degrees under the federally funded Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California, San Diego. His doctorate in neurosciences was awarded for work on the molecular mechanisms of visual system development in the lab of Dennis O'Leary at the Salk Institute. Dr. Choi completed psychiatry residency at UCLA-Neuropsychiatric Institute, and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania.

During his fellowship, Dr. Choi specialized in the field of neurolaw under the guidance of Stephen Morse and Ken Weiss. Academic interests include evaluating the use of neuro-evidence in the courts, particularly in the area of mind-reading with functional neuroimaging. As a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Choi specializes in complex cases evaluating criminal responsibility involving claims of biological causation of behaviors such as brain damage, medical conditions and medication use.

Outside of work, Dr. Choi is an avid musician and meditator, and has completed over 28 weeks of silent meditation retreat in the Vipassana tradition. He is working to establish a mindfulness research center at OHSU.