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Psychiatry Res. 2002 Jun 15;114(2):81-94.

Reduced frontotemporal perfusion in psychopathic personality.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Several brain-imaging studies have found associations between aberrant functioning in the frontal and temporal lobes and violent offending. We have previously reported decreased frontotemporal perfusion unrelated to psychosis, substance abuse, or current medication in 21 violent offenders. In the present study, we compared the regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in a new group of 32 violent offenders to scores on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), which rates two aspects of psychopathy: disturbed interpersonal attitudes (Factor 1) and impulsive antisocial behavior (Factor 2). A recently proposed model has split Factor 1 into a new Factor 1 (deceitful interpersonal style), a new Factor 2 (affective unresponsiveness), and a Factor 3, which approximately corresponds to the old Factor 2. The rCBF was assessed by single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with technetium-99m-d,l-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) in regions of interest (ROIs) placed in accordance with fusioned magnetic resonance images (MRI) and SPECT scans. Significant negative correlations were found between interpersonal features of psychopathy (the old and especially the new Factor 1) and the frontal and temporal perfusion. The two most clearly associated ROIs were the head of the caudate nuclei and the hippocampi. These findings in a group of violent offenders living under the same conditions, which reduced the number of state-related confounders, add to the evidence indicating that aberrant frontotemporal activity may be a factor in violent behavior.

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