Prefrontal Structural and Functional Brain Imaging Findings in Antisocial, Violent, and Psychopathic Individuals: A Meta-Analysis

Laboratory of NeuroImaging, Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.47). 11/2009; 174(2):81-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2009.03.012
Source: PubMed


Brain-imaging studies suggest that antisocial and violent behavior is associated with structural and functional deficits in the prefrontal cortex, but there is heterogeneity in findings and it is unclear whether findings apply to psychopaths, non-violent offenders, community-based samples, and studies employing psychiatric controls. A meta-analysis was conducted on 43 structural and functional imaging studies, and the results show significantly reduced prefrontal structure and function in antisocial individuals. Effect sizes were significant for both structural and functional studies. With minor exceptions, no statistically significant moderating effects of sample characteristics and methodological variables were observed. Findings were localized to the right orbitofrontal cortex, right anterior cingulate cortex, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Findings confirm the replicability of prefrontal structural and functional impairments in antisocial populations and highlight the involvement of orbitofrontal, dorsolateral frontal, and anterior cingulate cortex in antisocial behavior.

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    • "Gregory et al. (2012) found reduced prefrontal GMV in offenders with APD, who were classified as psychopaths, relative to offenders with APD 'alone', and suggested that psychopathy represents a distinct phenotype. Moreover, psychopathy and persistent violence have also been associated with decreased gray matter in limbic and paralimbic areas such as the amygdala , the insula, the hippocampus, or the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) (e.g., Boccardi et al., 2011; Contreras- Rodrı´guez et al., 2014; Yang and Raine, 2009; Ermer et al., 2012; de Oliveira-Souza et al., 2008). Existing results are somehow inconsistent, as Boccardi et al. (2011) reported enlargement of the lateral and central nucleus of the amygdala in offenders relative to controls. "
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    ABSTRACT: Measures of psychopathy have been proved to be valuable for risk assessment in violent criminals. However, the neuronal basis of psychopathy and its contribution to the prediction of criminal recidivism is still poorly understood. We compared structural imaging data from 40 male high-risk violent offenders and 37 non-delinquent healthy controls via voxel-based morphometry. Psychopathic traits and risk for violence recidivism were correlated with grey matter volume (GMV) of regions of interest previously shown relevant for criminal behavior. Relative to controls, criminals showed less GMV in the prefrontal cortex and more GMV in cerebellar regions and basal ganglia structures. Within criminals, we found a negative correlation between prefrontal GMV and psychopathy. Additionally, there was a positive correlation between cerebellar GMV and psychopathy as well as risk of recidivism for violence. Moreover, grey matter volumes of the basal ganglia and supplementary motor area (SMA) were positively correlated with anti-sociality. GMV of the amygdala was negatively correlated with dynamic risk for violence recidivism. In contrast, GMV of (para)limbic areas (orbitofrontal cortex, insula) was positively correlated with anti-sociality and risk for violence recidivism. The current investigation revealed that in violent offenders deviations in GMV of the prefrontal cortex as well as areas involved in the motor component of impulse control (cerebellum, basal ganglia, SMA) are differentially related to psychopathic traits and the risk for violence recidivism. The results might be valuable for improving existing risk assessment tools.
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    • "Research findings have found evidence that exposure to media violence (McCrory et al., 2010), abuse (Hart & Rubia, 2012; McCrory et al., 2010), and the condition of conduct disorder (Yang & Raine, 2009) collectively impact similar areas of the brain among children and adolescents. Evidence links exposure to violence with the development of abnormalities in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and striatum (Hart & Rubia, 2012; McCrory et al., 2010; Yang & Raine, 2009). When considering that these structures are theorized to be involved in empathy , emotional regulation, decision-making, and aggression, evidence suggests a link between exposure to violence, neurological correlates of violence, and antisocial behavior (Mehta, Goetz, & Carré, 2013). "
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    • "Our failure to detect group differences in amygdala and hippocampus volumes was therefore unexpected ( see Supplementary Materials for data and further discussion ) . Moreover , OFC abnormalities are consistently noted in clinically diagnosed BPD and ASPDs ( Yang and Raine , 2009 ; Sato et al . , 2012 ) , but here , we only found preliminary evidence that lateral OFC SA may be lower in subjects with Cluster B PD - Sx ( see Supplementary Materials ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: Personality disorder symptomatology (PD-Sx) can result in personal distress and impaired interpersonal functioning, even in the absence of a clinical diagnosis, and is frequently comorbid with psychiatric disorders such as substance use, mood, and anxiety disorders; however, they often remain untreated, and are not taken into account in clinical studies. To investigate brain morphological correlates of PD-Sx, we measured subcortical volume and shape, and cortical thickness/surface area, based on structural magnetic resonance images. We investigated 37 subjects who reported PD-Sx exceeding DSM-IV Axis-II screening thresholds, and 35 age, sex, and smoking status-matched control subjects. Subjects reporting PD-Sx were then grouped into symptom-based clusters: N = 20 into Cluster B (reporting Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, or Narcissistic PD-Sx) and N = 28 into Cluster C (reporting Obsessive–Compulsive, Avoidant, or Dependent PD-Sx); N = 11 subjects reported PD-Sx from both clusters, and none reported Cluster A (Paranoid, Schizoid, or Schizotypal) PD-Sx. Compared to control, Cluster C PD-Sx was associated with greater striatal surface area localized to the caudate tail, smaller ventral striatum volumes, and greater cortical thickness in right prefrontal cortex. Both Cluster B and C PD-Sx groups also showed trends toward greater posterior caudate volumes and orbitofrontal surface area anomalies, but these findings did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. The results point to morphological abnormalities that could contribute to Cluster C PD-Sx. In addition, the observations parallel those in substance use disorders, pointing to the importance of considering PD-Sx when interpreting findings in often-comorbid psychiatric disorders.
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