The Neuropsychology and Neurology of Sexual Deviance: A Review and Pilot Study

Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal, 10905 Henri-Bourassa Bld, Montreal, QC, H1C 1H1, Canada.
Sexual Abuse A Journal of Research and Treatment (Impact Factor: 2.28). 07/2007; 19(2):155-73. DOI: 10.1007/s11194-007-9045-4
Source: PubMed


Current neurological hypotheses of paraphilia posit that sexual deviance is associated with frontal and/or temporal lobe damage. This broad conception is based on few investigations, however, and the first goal of this study was to review the existing data derived from neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging and neuropsychology. It is concluded that although fronto-temporal dysfunctions are sporadically reported among sexual offenders, the evidence is scarce and it might not be specific to this type of offending. The second objective of this investigation was to gather preliminary neuropsychological data with more homogeneous subgroups of sexual offenders. A profile of lower-order executive dysfunctions (e.g. sustained attention and inhibition) and verbal deficits with intact or good capacities for higher-order executive functioning (e.g. reasoning and cognitive flexibility) and visuo-spatial processing was preferentially found among sexual offenders, suggesting basal fronto-temporal anomalies. Importantly, pedophiles were more consistently and severely impaired than rapists of adults. However, this basal fronto-temporal profile is not characteristic of sexual deviance, as it is also found in association with delinquency and criminality in general. Future neuropsychological and brain imaging studies should consider subgroups of sexual offenders and recruit non-sexual violent persons and non-violent individuals in order to disentangle the complex relations between brain anomalies and sexual deviance.

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Available from: Christian C Joyal, Jan 18, 2014
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    • "claim that acquired paedophilia can be predicted solely on the basis of a specific pathognomonic or an exclusive neurobiological cause (Joyal, Black, and Dassylva 2007). The hypersexual disorder needs to be understood within a multidimensional framework with several factors interacting with each other (psychological, environmental , social, cognitive capacities, testosterone levels, dopaminergic rewarding system, etc.). "

    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
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    • "In contrast, the insula seed was consistently associated with " action execution " in the BrainMap database. Hence, the morphological alteration of this region seems to contribute to the well-known executive deficits, most notably in sustained and response inhibition, in pedophiles [Joyal et al., 2007; Schiffer and Vonlaufen, 2011; Suchy et al., 2009; Tost et al., 2004]. This causal connection is strengthened by the FC of the insula seed with key structures for cognitive and motor control such as inferior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor area, midcingulate cortex, thalamus, basal ganglia, and cerebellum (cf. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Apr 2015
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    • "subgroups of individuals who commit sexual offenses might show different neuropsychological profiles. For instance, adults with sexual offenses who target adults tend to show executive dysfunction patterns similar to those of non-sex offenders (Joyal, Plante-Beaulieu, & De Chanterac, 2014), whereas adults who sexually offend against children tend to show poorer cognitive profiles than adults who sexually offend against adults (Joyal et al., 2007; Martin, 1999). Thus, examining the neuropsychological correlates of victim age as well as comparing the performance of those convicted for sexual offenses and non-sexual-delinquents may be crucial in elucidating the role of cognitive factors in the development of sexual behavior problems. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although executive dysfunctions are commonly hypothesized to contribute to sexual deviance or aggression, evidence of this relationship is scarce and its specificity is unproven, especially among adolescents. The objective of this study was to compare the executive functioning (EF) of adolescents with sexual offense convictions (ASOC) to that of non-sex-delinquents (NSD). A secondary goal was to assess the relationship among specific sexual offense characteristics (i.e., victim age), history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and EF. It was hypothesized that as a group, ASOC would present similar EF profiles as NSD. It was further hypothesized that ASOC with child victims would present significantly higher rates of CSA and more severe impairment of EF than ASOC with peer-aged or older victims and NSD. A total of 183 male adolescents (127 ASOC and 56 NSD) were interviewed to collect demographic information, sexual development history, history of CSA, an assessment of living conditions, and history of delinquency and sexual offending. Participants were administered the Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System and the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version. In accord with the first hypothesis, ASOC and NSD presented similar EF scores, well below normative values. Thus, EF deficits may not characterize the profiles of adolescents with sexual behavior problems. Contrarily to our second hypothesis, however, offending against children and or experiencing CSA were not associated with poorer EF performance. On the contrary, ASOC with child victims obtained significantly higher scores on measures of higher order EF than both ASOC with peer-aged or older victims and NSD. Implications of these results and future directions are discussed. © The Author(s) 2015.
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