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: 12.26). 05/2012; 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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    ABSTRACT: Objective Psychopathy is a personality disorder that involves a constellation of traits including callous-unemotionality, manipulativeness and impulsiveness. Here we review recent advances in the research of functional neural correlates of psychopathic personality traits in adults.Method We first provide a concise overview of functional neuroimaging findings in clinical samples diagnosed with PCL-R. We then review studies with community samples that have focused on how individual differences in psychopathic traits (variously measured) relate to individual differences in brain function. Where appropriate, we draw parallels between the findings from these studies and those with clinical samples.ResultsExtant data suggest that individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits show lower activity in affect processing brain areas to emotional/salient stimuli, and attenuated activity may be dependent on the precise content of the task. They also seem to show higher activity in regions typically associated with reward processing and cognitive control in tasks involving moral processing, decision-making and reward. Furthermore, affective-interpersonal and lifestyle-antisocial facets of psychopathy appear to be associated with different patterns of atypical neural activity.Conclusions Neuroimaging findings from community samples typically mirror those observed in clinical samples, and largely support the notion that psychopathy is a dimensional construct.
    Journal of Personality 07/2014; DOI:10.1111/jopy.12113 · 2.44 Impact Factor
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    Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 12/2014; 24(5):368-72. DOI:10.1002/cbm.1917 · 1.28 Impact Factor
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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; DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.018 · 6.04 Impact Factor


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May 16, 2014