Psychopathy as a disorder of the moral brain: Fronto-temporo-limbic grey matter reductions demonstrated by voxel-based morphometry

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, labs-D'Or Hospital Network, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 05/2008; 40(3):1202-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.054
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Major advances have been made in the understanding of the neurobiology of psychopathy in the past years, yet the distribution and extent of neuroanatomical abnormalities underlying the disorder are still poorly known. It is also unclear if different dimensions of the construct of psychopathy (e.g., emotional callousness, antisocial behavior) correspond to structural abnormalities in distinct regions of the brain. We tested the following hypotheses: (1) psychopathy is related to grey matter reductions in regions of the brain that underlie moral conduct and (2) the severity of psychopathy is related to the degree of structural abnormalities. Optimized voxel-based morphometry and the screening version of the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL: SV) were employed to investigate a matched sample of 15 community psychiatric patients with high PCL: SV scores, and 15 healthy normal volunteers. The analyses controlled for total grey matter, white matter and cerebrospinal fluid volumes. Grey matter reductions were observed in the frontopolar, orbitofrontal and anterior temporal cortices, superior temporal sulcus region, and insula of the patients. The degree of structural abnormalities was significantly related to the interpersonal/affective dimension of psychopathy. The pattern of grey matter reductions in patients with high psychopathy scores comprised a distributed fronto-temporal network which plays a critical role in moral sensibility and behavior.


Available from: Ivanei E Bramati, Mar 30, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: There is increasing evidence that bipolar disorder (BD) and conduct disorder (CD) are co-occurring disorders. Magnetic resonance imaging has revealed differences in the structure and function of the frontal cortex in these disorders when studied separately; however, the impact of BD comorbidity on brain structure in adolescents with CD has not yet been examined. Method: We conducted an optimized voxel based morphometry (VBM) study of juvenile offenders with the following diagnoses: conduct disorder with comorbid bipolar disorder (CD-BD; n = 24), conduct disorder without bipolar disorder (CD; n = 24) and healthy controls (HC, n = 24). Participants were 13–17 years of age, in a residential treatment facility for repeat offenders. The three groups in this study were similar in age, gender, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Results: We found CD-BD subjects had decreased volume relative to controls at the voxel level in the right medial prefrontal cortex (PFC). Using a Threshold-Free Cluster Enhancement (TFCE) technique, the CD-BD subjects had significantly decreased volumes of the right medial prefrontal cortex and portions of the superior and inferior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate and temporal gyrus. The CD subjects did not have differences in brain volume compared to control subjects or CD-BD subjects. Conclusions: Our findings suggest the comorbidity between CD and BD is associated with neurobiological impact namely volumetric differences from healthy controls. Furthermore subjects with this comorbidity had poorer lifetime functioning, more mood and attentional dysfunction, and more medication exposure than subjects with CD who were not BD.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Empathy has been the object of increasing attention, not only in the context of interpersonal functioning, but also in psychopathology. The contemporary model of empathy assumes that it has three components: 1) empathic concern (the capacity to share feelings and express sympathy for people who have encountered misfortune); 2) perspective taking (the tendency to understand another’s point of view); 3) personal distress (taking on another person's negative feelings). The goal of our research was to analyze how the contemporary model of empathy may be related to personality disor - ders and the stress felt in situations of daily life. We used the Empathic Sensitiveness Scale (SWE), the Masculine Gender Role Stress (MGRS) Scale, the Feminine Gender Role Stress (FGS) Scale, and the IBZO-DSM-IV Inventory as a diagnostic instrument. The correlations were analyzed between empathy, personalitydisorders, and gender role stress. One hundred and eighty persons (110 women) participated in the research. Personal distress correlated positively with personality disorders, while perspective taking correlated negatively. Emotional empathy correlated positively with the tendency to experience gender role stress, whereas perspective taking correlated negatively with masculine role stress. Our results confirm a relationship between disturbed mechanisms of emotional regulation (personal distress), personality disorders according to DSM-IV, and stress. Persons who share another’s negative emotions have problems with realizing social expectations.The ability to grasp another person’s perspective is associated with lower risk of personality disorders and gender role stress. This is essential for diagnostic and therapeutic work with persons with personality disorders.
    Acta Neuropsychologica 06/2013; 11(2):113-125. DOI:10.5604/17307503.1073470
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Because the disruptive behavior disorders are highly impairing conditions, it is important to determine if structural variations in brain are associated early in life with these problems among children. Structural MRI data were acquired from 111 9-11 year olds (58 girls and 53 boys), 43 who met diagnostic criteria for oppositional defiant disorder and/or conduct disorder and 68 healthy controls. Voxel-based morphometry was used to examine associations of behavioral measures with gray matter volumes in whole-brain analyses. Unlike previous studies, variation in gray matter volume was not found to be associated with a disruptive behavior disorder diagnosis in any brain region at p < .o5 with FWE correction. Nonetheless, an inverse nonlinear association of the number of conduct disorder (CD) symptoms with gray matter volume along the left superior temporal sulcus was significant in the full sample (p < .o5 with FWE correction), with a trend in the right hemisphere (p < 0.001 uncorrected). There also was a trend towards a stronger association of the number of CD symptoms with gray matter volume along the left superior temporal sulcus in girls than boys. The present findings did not replicate previous findings of reduced gray matter volumes in the anterior insula, amygdala, and frontal cortex in youth with CD, but are consistent with previous findings of reduced gray matter volumes in temporal regions, particularly in girls.
    12/2014; 7:252-257. DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2014.12.012