The Psychopath Brain

The Disconnection of Psychopaths

Functional connectivity between the right amygdala and anterior vmPFC is reduced in psychopaths. From Fig. 2 of Motzkin et al., (2011).

What is psychopathy, exactly? According to Ermer and colleagues (2011):

Psychopathy is a serious personality disorder marked by affective and interpersonal deficiencies, as well as behavioral problems and antisocial tendencies (Cleckley, 1976). Affective and interpersonal traits (termed Factor 1) include callousness and a profound inability to experience remorse, guilt, and empathy; antisocial and behavioral problems (termed Factor 2) include impulsivity, stimulation seeking, and irresponsibility. These symptoms tend to manifest at an early age, continue throughout adulthood, and pervade numerous aspects of psychopaths’ daily functioning.

As for the brain regions implicated in psychopathy, dysfunction in the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) have been suspected for quite some time (Abbott, 2001Blair, 2007Koenigs et al., 2011). From this perspective, a recent study on the structural and functional connectivity of these two regions (Motzkin et al., 2011) isn’t entirely groundbreaking. Read more…

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2 thoughts on “The Psychopath Brain

  1. Interesting. If psychopathy can be proven to be a condition of the brain, i.e. failure of communication between amygdala and VPC, then what is the cause of sociopathic behavior? What causes groups of people to adopt the characteristics of a psychopath when they presumably don’t have the same physiological constraints?

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