The Neuroscience of Terrorism: A Neuroscientific Approach to Understanding Cognitive-Behavioral Traits of Violent Extremists

  • Noel Shafi University at Buffalo


The neuroscience of terrorism is a newly emerging interdisciplinary topic with potential implications for national security, forensic psychology, neuroimaging, and foreign policy. The exploratory case study and literature review presented highlight some of the most important findings in neuroscience in the previous decade. This paper attempts to apply current theories of brain-behavior relationships to understanding terrorism and violent ex¬tremism. Violent extremism is essential to terrorism and terrorist organizations. We found that a neuroscientific approach can identify and formulate research questions poised to in¬vestigate terrorism and violent extremism. Ultimately, we believe that neuroscience can be used in unison with traditional counterterrorism methods to better understand the terrorist mindset.

Author Biography

Noel Shafi, University at Buffalo

Graduate Student

College of Arts and Sciences

University at Buffalo



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