Article

The Antisocial Brain: Psychopathy Matters A Structural MRI Investigation of Antisocial Male Violent Offenders

and Département de Psychiatrie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada (Dr Hodgins).
Archives of general psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.75). 05/2012; 69(9). DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.222
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT CONTEXT: The population of men who display persistent antisocial and violent behavior is heterogeneous. Callous-unemotional traits in childhood and psychopathic traits in adulthood characterize a distinct subgroup. OBJECTIVE: To identify structural gray matter (GM) differences between persistent violent offenders who meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder and the syndrome of psychopathy (ASPD+P) and those meeting criteria only for ASPD (ASPD-P). DESIGN: Cross-sectional case-control structural magnetic resonance imaging study. SETTING: Inner-city probation services and neuroimaging research unit in London, England. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-six men, including 17 violent offenders with ASPD+P, 27 violent offenders with ASPD-P, and 22 healthy nonoffenders participated in the study. Forensic clinicians assessed participants using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Gray matter volumes as assessed by structural magnetic resonance imaging and volumetric voxel-based morphometry analyses. RESULTS: Offenders with ASPD+P displayed significantly reduced GM volumes bilaterally in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex (Brodmann area 10) and temporal poles (Brodmann area 20/38) relative to offenders with ASPD-P and nonoffenders. These reductions were not attributable to substance use disorders. Offenders with ASPD-P exhibited GM volumes similar to the nonoffenders. CONCLUSIONS: Reduced GM volume within areas implicated in empathic processing, moral reasoning, and processing of prosocial emotions such as guilt and embarrassment may contribute to the profound abnormalities of social behavior observed in psychopathy. Evidence of robust structural brain differences between persistently violent men with and without psychopathy adds to the evidence that psychopathy represents a distinct phenotype. This knowledge may facilitate research into the etiology of persistent violent behavior.

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    • "The relevance of the DMN to psychopathy is further supported by recent functional MRI studies that have reported abnormal activation and connectivity within this network among men with psychopathy (Glenn, Raine, & Schug, 2009; Motzkin, et al., 2011; Pujol et al., 2011). Similarly, structural imaging studies of both adults with psychopathy (Boccardi et al., 2011; Ermer, Cope, Nyalakanti, Calhoun, & Kiehl, 2012; Gregory et al., 2012; de Oliveira-Souza et al., 2008; Yang, Raine, Colletti, Toga, & Narr, 2009) and boys with conduct disorder and callous-unemotional traits (De Brito et al., 2009; Rijsdijsk et al., 2010) have reported abnormal grey matter volume in DMN regions. Importantly, a preliminary study has reported that the degree of functional connectivity within a network containing DMN regions was related to emotional detachment in individuals with psychopathy (Juarez, Kiehl, & Calhoun, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Criminal psychopathy is defined by emotional detachment (Psychopathy Checklist – Revised [PCL-R] factor 1), and antisocial behaviour (PCL-R factor 2). Previous work has associated antisocial behaviour in psychopathy with abnormalities in a ventral temporo-amygdala-orbitofrontal network. However, little is known of the neural correlates of emotional detachment. Imaging studies have indicated that the ‘default-mode network’ (DMN), and in particular its dorsomedial (medial prefrontal – posterior cingulate) component, contributes to affective and social processing in healthy individuals. Furthermore, recent work suggests that this network may be implicated in psychopathy. However, no research has examined the relationship between psychopathy, emotional detachment, and the white matter underpinning the DMN. We therefore used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography in 13 offenders with psychopathy and 13 non-offenders to investigate the relationship between emotional detachment and the microstructure of white matter connections within the DMN. These included the dorsal cingulum (containing the medial prefrontal – posterior cingulate connections of the DMN), and the ventral cingulum (containing the posterior cingulate – medial temporal connections of the DMN). We found that fractional anisotropy was reduced in the left dorsal cingulum in the psychopathy group (p = .024). Moreover, within this group, emotional detachment was negatively correlated with fractional anisotropy in this tract portion bilaterally (left: r = -.61, p = .026; right: r = -.62, p = .023). These results suggest the importance of the dorsal DMN in the emotional detachment observed in individuals with psychopathy. We propose a ‘dual-network’ model of white matter abnormalities in the disorder, which incorporates these with previous findings.
    Cortex 08/2014; 62. DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.018 · 6.04 Impact Factor
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    • "Different dimensions of psychopathy have been linked with dysfunction in distinct brain regions. For example, Gregory et al. (2012) found that only the brain function of individuals with both ASPD and psychopathy deviates from the norm, which is in line with Karpman's (1941) assumption that primary psychopaths, characterised by more psychopathic traits, are born, whereas secondary psychopaths, who display more antisocial behaviours, are created through environmental factors. Nevertheless, as demonstrated in this review, most studies into brain abnormalities related to psychopathy fail to control for psychopathy variants. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to present and provide a critical review of most recent studies inquiring into brain abnormalities in psychopathy. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The authors provide an overview of the findings of neurobiological studies conducted in the last five years. Publications chosen for review were found using Web of Science, PsycINFO and Scopus search engines. Findings ‐ Data in the literature reveal that psychopathy is associated with brain abnormalities in frontal and temporo-limbic regions, i.e. regions responsible for moral decision making, emotional processing and learning. Additionally, interactions between the brain areas have been identified as crucial for the development of psychopathic personality traits. Research findings suggest that the flow of impulses between the frontal cortex and temporo-limbic structures in psychopaths is significantly hindered. Originality/value ‐ The current paper provides an in-depth review of most recent neurobiological studies inquiring into brain abnormalities associated with psychopathic personality traits. Moreover, a particular attention has been paid to identifying abnormalities in brain structures not previously studied in relation to psychopathy (e.g. mirror neuron system, white matter connections).
    Mental Health Review Journal 06/2014; 19(2). DOI:10.1108/MHRJ-10-2013-0034
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    • "Different dimensions of psychopathy have been linked with dysfunction in distinct brain regions. For example, Gregory et al. (2012) found that only the brain function of individuals with both ASPD and psychopathy deviates from the norm, which is in line with Karpman's (1941) assumption that primary psychopaths, characterised by more psychopathic traits, are born, whereas secondary psychopaths, who display more antisocial behaviours, are created through environmental factors. Nevertheless, as demonstrated in this review, most studies into brain abnormalities related to psychopathy fail to control for psychopathy variants. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose – The aim of this paper is to present and provide a critical review of most recent studies inquiring into brain abnormalities in psychopathy. Design/methodology/approach – The authors provide an overview of the findings of neurobiological studies conducted in the last five years. Publications chosen for review were found using Web of Science, PsycINFO and Scopus search engines. Findings – Data in the literature reveal that psychopathy is associated with brain abnormalities in frontal and temporo-limbic regions, i.e. regions responsible for moral decision making, emotional processing and learning. Additionally, interactions between the brain areas have been identified as crucial for the development of psychopathic personality traits. Research findings suggest that the flow of impulses between the frontal cortex and temporo-limbic structures in psychopaths is significantly hindered. Originality/value – The current paper provides an in-depth review of most recent neurobiological studies inquiring into brain abnormalities associated with psychopathic personality traits. Moreover, a particular attention has been paid to identifying abnormalities in brain structures not previously studied in relation to psychopathy (e.g. mirror neuron system, white matter connections).
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