Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sociopathic Brain

Did you ever wonder how the sociopathic brain differs from a normal brain? Studies have shown that sociopathy is more than just the absence of conscience. It involves an inability to process emotional experiences (including caring and love) except when such an experience can be calculated as a coldly intellectual task. Dr. Martha Stout has reported that the sociopathic brain responds to emotionally charged words no differently from neutral words (unlike the non-sociopathic population). In addition, research using single-photon emission-computed tomography showed increased blood flow to the temporal lobes when the sociopathic brain was given a decisional task that involved emotional words, a task that would be almost neurologically instantaneous for normal brains.  The sociopathic brains were functioning as if they had been asked to work out an algebra problem.  Conclusion: sociopathy involves an altered level of processing of emotional stimuli at the level of the cerebral cortex (as compared to non-sociopathic brains), although the reason for this is not yet clear. It may be the result of a heritable neurodevelopmental difference that can either be slightly compensated for, or made much worse, by cultural, environmental, or child-rearing factors. Startling!

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