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J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 30;31(48):17348-57. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4215-11.2011.

Reduced prefrontal connectivity in psychopathy.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53719, USA.

Abstract

Linking psychopathy to a specific brain abnormality could have significant clinical, legal, and scientific implications. Theories on the neurobiological basis of the disorder typically propose dysfunction in a circuit involving ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). However, to date there is limited brain imaging data to directly test whether psychopathy may indeed be associated with any structural or functional abnormality within this brain area. In this study, we employ two complementary imaging techniques to assess the structural and functional connectivity of vmPFC in psychopathic and non-psychopathic criminals. Using diffusion tensor imaging, we show that psychopathy is associated with reduced structural integrity in the right uncinate fasciculus, the primary white matter connection between vmPFC and anterior temporal lobe. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that psychopathy is associated with reduced functional connectivity between vmPFC and amygdala as well as between vmPFC and medial parietal cortex. Together, these data converge to implicate diminished vmPFC connectivity as a characteristic neurobiological feature of psychopathy.

PMID:
22131397
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3311922
Free PMC Article

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