Neuroimaging of Psychopathy and Antisocial Behavior: A Targeted Review

Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, Room 206, 15K North Drive, MSC 2670, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Current Psychiatry Reports (Impact Factor: 3.24). 02/2010; 12(1):76-82. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-009-0086-x
Source: PubMed


The goal of this article is to provide a selective and targeted review of the neuroimaging literature on psychopathic tendencies and antisocial behavior and to explore the extent to which this literature supports recent cognitive neuroscientific models of psychopathy and antisocial behavior. The literature reveals that individuals who present with an increased risk for reactive, but not instrumental, aggression show increased amygdala responses to emotionally evocative stimuli. This is consistent with suggestions that such individuals are primed to respond strongly to an inappropriate extent to threatening or frustrating events. In contrast, individuals with psychopathic tendencies show decreased amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex responses to emotionally provocative stimuli or during emotional learning paradigms. This is consistent with suggestions that such individuals face difficulties with basic forms of emotional learning and decision making.

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Available from: Robert James R Blair, Oct 02, 2015
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    • "On the other hand, Ermer et al. (2012) reported decreased volume in the left lateral OFC specifically, using a sample of inmates with high PCL-R scores. The OFC has been considered one of the main neural candidates implicated in the affective and decision-making impairments observed in psychopathy (Blair, 2010, 2013), which raises questions about the reason for these inconsistencies. One possibility is that they are due to sampling differences across studies. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research suggests psychopathy is associated with structural brain alterations that may contribute to the affective and interpersonal deficits frequently observed in individuals with high psychopathic traits. However, the regional alterations related to different components of psychopathy are still unclear. We used voxel-based morphometry to characterize the structural correlates of psychopathy in a sample of 35 healthy adults assessed with the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure. Furthermore, we examined the regional grey matter alterations associated with the components described by the triarchic model. Our results showed that, after accounting for variation in total intracranial volume, age and IQ, overall psychopathy was negatively associated with grey matter volume in the left putamen and amygdala. Additional regression analysis with anatomical ROIs revealed total triPM score was also associated with increased lateral OFC and caudate volume. Boldness was positively associated with volume in the right insula. Meanness was positively associated with lateral OFC and striatum volume, and negatively associated with amygdala volume. Finally, disinhibition was negatively associated with amygdala volume. Results highlight the contribution of both subcortical and cortical brain alterations for subclinical psychopathy and are discussed in light of prior research and theoretical accounts about the neurobiological bases of psychopathic traits. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email:
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 05/2015; DOI:10.1093/scan/nsv062 · 7.37 Impact Factor
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    • "tedavisinin değerlendirilmesinde belirteç olarak kullanılabileceği öne sürülmüştür (Blair 2007, Lee ve ark 2008, Blair 2010,). Amigdala, uyaran–ceza/ödül ilişkilendirmesinde kritik öneme sahip bir yapı olup disfonksiyonunda uyaran–ceza/ödül ilişkilendirmesi yoluyla öğrenme azalır; bu nedenle bireyin normal sosyalleşme teknikleri ile toplumun uyumlu bir parçası olma süreci aksar. "
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    • "Those with very high levels of these traits present the syndrome psychopathy as defined by the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised (PCL-R) (Hare, 2003). Offenders with ASPD and low levels of the personality traits of psychopathy have high levels of impulsivity (Swann et al., 2009), engage in reactive aggression, and show a hyperactive threat system (Blair, 2010), while those with high levels of psychopathic traits are less impulsive, engage in planned, premediated instrumental aggression (Glenn and Raine, 2009), and show a hypo-responsive limbic system (Blair et al., 1999). Two meta-analyses have demonstrated that impairments in executive function (EF) are associated with criminal offending (Morgan and Lilienfeld, 2000; Ogilvie et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Results of meta-analyses suggested subtle deficits in cognitive control among antisocial individuals. Because almost all studies focused on children with conduct problems or adult psychopaths, however, little is known about cognitive control mechanisms among the majority of persistent violent offenders who present an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). The present study aimed to determine whether offenders with ASPD, relative to non-offenders, display dysfunction in the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive control and to assess the extent to which these dysfunctions are associated with psychopathic traits and trait impulsivity. Participants comprised 21 violent offenders and 23 non-offenders who underwent event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a non-verbal Stroop task. The offenders, relative to the non-offenders, exhibited reduced response time interference and a different pattern of conflict- and error-related activity in brain areas involved in cognitive control, attention, language, and emotion processing, that is, the anterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal, superior temporal and postcentral cortices, putamen, thalamus, and amygdala. Moreover, between-group differences in behavioural and neural responses revealed associations with core features of psychopathy and attentional impulsivity. Thus, the results of the present study confirmed the hypothesis that offenders with ASPD display alterations in the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive control and that those alterations relate, at least in part, to personality characteristics.
    Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 04/2014; 222(1). DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.01.008 · 2.42 Impact Factor
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