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Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 Mar;31(3):438-47. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20877.

Abnormal hippocampal shape in offenders with psychopathy.

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1
LENITEM Laboratory of Epidemiology, Neuroimaging, and Telemedicine, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio-Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy.

Abstract

Posterior hippocampal volumes correlate negatively with the severity of psychopathy, but local morphological features are unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate hippocampal morphology in habitually violent offenders having psychopathy. Manual tracings of hippocampi from magnetic resonance images of 26 offenders (age: 32.5 +/- 8.4), with different degrees of psychopathy (12 high, 14 medium psychopathy based on the Psychopathy Checklist Revised), and 25 healthy controls (age: 34.6 +/- 10.8) were used for statistical modelling of local changes with a surface-based radial distance mapping method. Both offenders and controls had similar hippocampal volume and asymmetry ratios. Local analysis showed that the high psychopathy group had a significant depression along the longitudinal hippocampal axis, on both the dorsal and ventral aspects, when compared with the healthy controls and the medium psychopathy group. The opposite comparison revealed abnormal enlargement of the lateral borders in both the right and left hippocampi of both high and medium psychopathy groups versus controls, throughout CA1, CA2-3 and the subicular regions. These enlargement and reduction effects survived statistical correction for multiple comparisons in the main contrast (26 offenders vs. 25 controls) and in most subgroup comparisons. A statistical check excluded a possible confounding effect from amphetamine and polysubstance abuse. These results indicate that habitually violent offenders exhibit a specific abnormal hippocampal morphology, in the absence of total gray matter volume changes, that may relate to different autonomic modulation and abnormal fear-conditioning.

PMID:
19718651
DOI:
10.1002/hbm.20877
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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