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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2014 Jan;39(1):22-30. doi: 10.1503/jpn.120046.

Abnormal interhemispheric connectivity in male psychopathic offenders.

Author information

  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
  • 2Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Schizophrenia program, Toronto, Ont.
  • 3Correctional Service of Canada, Central Ontario District (Parole), Psychology Department, Toronto, Ont.
  • 4Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Law and Mental Health Program, Toronto, Ont., Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Psychopathic offenders inevitably violate interpersonal norms and frequently resort to aggressive and criminal behaviour. The affective and cognitive deficits underlying these behaviours have been linked to abnormalities in functional interhemispheric connectivity. However, direct neurophysiological evidence for dysfunctional connectivity in psychopathic offenders is lacking.

METHODS:

We used transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography to examine interhemispheric connectivity in the dorsolateral and motor cortex in a sample of psychopathic offenders and healthy controls. We also measured intracortical inhibition and facilitation over the left and right motor cortex to investigate the effects of local cortical processes on interhemispheric connectivity.

RESULTS:

We enrolled 17 psychopathic offenders and 14 controls in our study. Global abnormalities in right to left functional connectivity were observed in psychopathic offenders compared with controls. Furthermore, in contrast to controls, psychopathic offenders showed increased intracortical inhibition in the right, but not the left, hemisphere.

LIMITATIONS:

The relatively small sample size limited the sensitivity to show that the abnormalities in interhemispheric connectivity were specifically related to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in psychopathic offenders.

CONCLUSION:

To our knowledge, this study provides the first neurophysiological evidence for abnormal interhemispheric connectivity in psychopathic offenders and may further our understanding of the disruptive antisocial behaviour of these offenders.

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