Friday, May 11, 2012

Psychopaths’ brains are different from others’

LONDON: Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains.

The researchers, based at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said differences in psychopaths' brains mark them out even from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders (APSD).

Nigel Blackwood, who led the study, said the ability to use brain scans to identify and diagnose this sub-group of violent criminals has important implications for treatment.

Blackwood's team scanned the brains of 44 violent adult male offenders in Britain who had already been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorders. The results showed that the psychopaths' brains had significantly less grey matter in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles than the brains of the non-psychopathic offenders and non-offenders.

These areas of the brain are important for understanding other people's emotions and intentions, and are activated when people think about moral behaviour, the researchers said.

"We describe those without psychopathy as 'hot-headed' and those with psychopathy as 'cold-hearted'," Blackwood explained.

 
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