Brain abnormalities in psychopathy

Authored by: Yaling Yang

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749

10.4324/9781315858449.ch19

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Abstract

Throughout history, there has been significant interest in the personality and behavior structure of psychopathy. Although the etiology of psychopathy remains unclear, mounting evidence is beginning to suggest that brain abnormalities may be responsible for several clinical features of psychopathy, including lack of fear and poor moral decision-making. With the increasing use of imaging technology in psychiatric research, studies using structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and functional MRI (fMRI) have begun to locate regions in the brain that are impaired in individuals with psychopathy and related disorders. Several issues are addressed in this chapter. What are the characteristics and assessments of psychopathy? Based on the imaging findings of psychopathic individuals, what could we hypothesize regarding the neural bases of key psychopathic features? Are unique brain characteristics associated with different subgroups of psychopathy? Is there evidence supporting a neurodevelopmental contribution to the development of psychopathy? How do psychosocial factors interact with brain abnormalities in influencing the outcome of psychopathy?

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