Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Did you know that new research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain? Previous research has shown that the brains of psychopaths differ structurally from healthy brains. This new study, led by researchers at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), is the first to confirm that psychopathy is a distinct neuro-developmental sub-groups of brains diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder or ASPD (not all individuals diagnosed with ASPD are also psychopathic). The study found that ASPD+P offenders displayed significantly reduced grey matter volumes in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles compared to ASPD-P offenders and healthy non-offenders. These areas are important in understanding other people’s emotions and intentions and are activated when people think about moral behavior. Damage to these areas is associated with impaired empathising with other people, poor response to fear and distress and a lack of ‘self-conscious’ emotions such as guilt or embarrassment.