Nav: Home

An underlying cause for psychopathic behavior?

April 27, 2010

Milan, Italy, 27 April 2010 - Psychopaths are known to be characterized by callousness, diminished capacity for remorse, and lack of empathy. However, the exact cause of these personality traits is an area of scientific debate. The results of a new study, reported in the May 2010 issue of Elsevier's Cortex (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/cortex), show striking similarities between the mental impairments observed in psychopaths and those seen in patients with frontal lobe damage.

One previous explanation for psychopathic tendencies has been a reduced capacity to make inferences about the mental states of other people, an ability known as Theory of Mind (ToM). On the other hand, psychopaths are also known to be extremely good manipulators and deceivers, which would imply that they have good skills in inferring the knowledge, needs, intentions, and beliefs of other people. Therefore, it has been suggested recently that ToM is made up of different aspects: a cognitive part, which requires inferences about knowledge and beliefs, and another part which requires the understanding of emotions.

Dr Simone Shamay-Tsoory, from the University of Haifa in Israel, along with colleagues from The Shalvata Mental Health Care Center and the Rambam Medical Center, tested the hypothesis that impairment in the emotional aspects of these abilities may account for psychopathic behaviour. Earlier research from the same group had shown that patients with damage to the frontal lobes of the brain lack some of the emotional aspects of Theory of Mind, so they speculated that psychopathy may also be linked to frontal lobe dysfunction.

The emotional and cognitive aspects of Theory of Mind abilities were examined for participants in the new study, which consisted of a number of different groups: criminal offenders, who had been diagnosed as having antisocial personality disorder with highly psychopathic tendencies, patients with damage to the frontal lobes of the brain, patients with damage to other areas of the brain, and healthy control subjects. The pattern of impairments in the psychopathic participants showed a remarkable resemblance to those in the participants with frontal lobe damage, suggesting that an underlying cause of the behavioural disturbances observed in psychopathy may be dysfunction in the frontal lobes.
-end-
Notes to Editors:

The article is "The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in affective theory of mind deficits in criminal offenders with psychopathic tendencies" by Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Hagai Harari, Judith Aharon-Peretz and Yechiel Levkovitz and appears in Cortex, Volume 46, Issue 5 (May 2010), published by Elsevier in Italy. Full text of the article featured above is available to members of the media upon request. Please contact the Elsevier press office, newsroom@elsevier.com. To schedule an interview, contact Dr Simone Shamay-Tsoory, sshamay@psy.haifa.ac.il.

About Cortex

Cortex is an international journal devoted to the study of cognition and of the relationship between the nervous system and mental processes, particularly as these are reflected in the behaviour of patients with acquired brain lesions, normal volunteers, children with typical and atypical development, and in the activation of brain regions and systems as recorded by functional neuroimaging techniques. It was founded in 1964 by Ennio De Renzi. The Editor in-chief of Cortex is Sergio Della Sala, Professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. Fax: 0131 6513230, e-mail: cortex@ed.ac.uk. Cortex is available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00109452

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including the Lancet (www.thelancet.com) and Cell (www.cell.com), and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include ScienceDirect (www.sciencedirect.com), Scopus (www.scopus.com), Reaxys (www.reaxys.com), MD Consult (www.mdconsult.com) and Nursing Consult (www.nursingconsult.com), which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite (www.scival.com) and MEDai's Pinpoint Review (www.medai.com), which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier (www.elsevier.com) employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC (www.reedelsevier.com), a world-leading publisher and information provider. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Elsevier

Related Brain Articles:

Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors
Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level.
Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.
New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery
Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues.
Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development
Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.
New test may quickly identify mild traumatic brain injury with underlying brain damage
A new test using peripheral vision reaction time could lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion.
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Brain scientists at TU Dresden examine brain networks during short-term task learning
'Practice makes perfect' is a common saying. We all have experienced that the initially effortful implementation of novel tasks is becoming rapidly easier and more fluent after only a few repetitions.
Balancing time & space in the brain: New model holds promise for predicting brain dynamics
A team of scientists has extended the balanced network model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development
The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behavior problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behavior stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

Related Brain Reading:

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity
by Norman Doidge (Author)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

 The New York Times–bestselling author of The Brain That Changes Itself presents astounding advances in the treatment of brain injury and illness. Now in an updated and expanded paperback edition.

Winner of the 2015 Gold Nautilus Award in Science & Cosmology 

In his groundbreaking work The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge introduced readers to neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change its own structure and function in response to activity and mental experience. Now his revolutionary... View Details


Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems
by Daniel G. Amen M.D. (Author)

In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes effective "brain prescriptions" that can help heal your brain and change your life.

To quell anxiety and panic:
Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil

To fight depression:
Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)

To curb anger:
Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage

To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus:
Develop total focus with the One-Page... View Details


The Brain: The Story of You
by David Eagleman (Author)

Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human?  In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the... View Details


Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers
by David Perlmutter (Author), Kristin Loberg (Contributor)

A #1 New York Times bestseller--the devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 4-week plan to achieve optimum health.

Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common... View Details


The Human Brain Coloring Book (Coloring Concepts Series)
by Marian C. Diamond (Author), Arnold B. Scheibel (Author)

Developed by internationally renowned neurosurgeons, this unique book is designed for students of psychology and the biological sciences, and medical, dental, and nursing students. View Details


The Brain: All about Our Nervous System and More!
by Seymour Simon (Author)

The human brain is behind everything you do. From taking your first step to creating the computer, this vital organ gives humans the ability to learn and adapt to an ever-changing world. Learn all about your amazing, versatile brain with award-winning science writer Seymour Simon.

View Details


The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal
by Larry W. Swanson (Author), Eric Newman (Author), Alfonso Araque (Author), Janet M. Dubinsky (Author)

At the crossroads of art and science, Beautiful Brain presents Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience through his groundbreaking artistic brain imagery.
 
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) was the father of modern neuroscience and an exceptional artist. He devoted his life to the anatomy of the brain, the body’s most complex and mysterious organ. His superhuman feats of visualization, based on fanatically precise techniques and countless hours at the microscope, resulted in some of the most remarkable illustrations in the... View Details


The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
by Norman Doidge (Author)

An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human... View Details


Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health
by Dr. Caroline Leaf (Author)

According to researchers, the vast majority--a whopping 75-98 percent--of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about truly affects us both physically and emotionally. In fact, fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than thirty different hormones! Today our culture is undergoing an epidemic of toxic thoughts that, left unchecked, create ideal conditions for illnesses.

Supported by current scientific and medical research, Dr. Caroline Leaf gives readers a prescription... View Details


My First Book About the Brain (Dover Children's Science Books)
by Patricia J. Wynne (Author), Donald M. Silver (Author)

Winner of a Bronze 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award!
Discover the workings of the body's most complex organ! How does the brain control the rest of the body? How does it enable the senses to function, regulate speech, affect balance, and influence sleep and dreams? These 25 illustrations to color explain every aspect of the brain's important jobs, from communicating with the central nervous system to retaining memories. Suitable for ages 8–12. View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."