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Behav Sci Law. 2008;26(1):131-50. doi: 10.1002/bsl.796.

Disturbed prefrontal and temporal brain function during emotion and cognition interaction in criminal psychopathy.

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  • 1Department of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,University of Göttingen, Von Siebold Strasse 5, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Impaired emotional responsiveness has been revealed as a hallmark of psychopathy. In spite of an increasing database on emotion processing, studies on cognitive function and in particular on the impact of emotion on cognition in psychopathy are rare. We used pictures from the International Affective Picture Set (IAPS) and a Simon Paradigm to address emotion-cognition interaction while functional and structural imaging data were obtained in 12 healthy controls and 10 psychopaths. We found an impaired emotion-cognition interaction in psychopaths that correlated with a changed prefrontal and temporal brain activation. With regard to the temporal cortex, it is shown that structure and function of the right superior temporal gyrus is disturbed in psychopathy, supporting a neurobiological approach to psychopathy, in which structure and function of the right STG may be important.

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