Vol. 10, No. 3, 2004 Page 4&6

Psychopaths: new evidence of brain abnormalities

New studies add to evidence linking psychopathic behavior to abnormalities in brain structure and function. Among the recent findings:

The hippocampus plays a key role in regulating aggression, as well as in "contextual fear conditioning" the learned knowledge of which situations cause fear and should thus be avoided in the future. Raine et al. speculate that in unsuccessful psychopaths, disruption of the circuitry between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex may result in impaired contextual fear conditioning, and in "impulsive, disinhibited, unregulated and reward-driven antisocial behavior that is more prone to legal detection."

Earlier studies by Raine et al. (see Crime Times, 1995, Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 1, Crime Times, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 7, Crime Times, 2000, Vol. 6, No. 2, Page 1, and Crime Times, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 1, Page 6) have revealed a range of additional brain anomalies in psychopaths.


"Psychopathy and physiological response to emotionally evocative sounds," Edelyn Verona et al., Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 113, No. 1, 2004, 99-108. Address: Edelyn Verona, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

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"Hippocampal structural asymmetry in unsuccessful psychopaths," Adrian Raine et al., Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 55, 2004, 185-191. Address: Adrian Raine, Dept. of Psychology, University of Southern California, Seeley G. Mudd Building 501, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061.

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