Send to

Choose Destination
Eur Psychiatry. 2013 May;28(4):225-34. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Sep 1.

Reduced thalamic volume in men with antisocial personality disorder or schizophrenia and a history of serious violence and childhood abuse.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, PO78, SE5 8AF, London, UK.



Violent behaviour has been associated with presence of certain mental disorders, most notably antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and schizophrenia, childhood abuse, and multiple brain abnormalities. This study examined for the first time, to the authors' knowledge, the role of psychosocial deprivation (PSD), including childhood physical and sexual abuse, in structural brain volumes of violent individuals with ASPD or schizophrenia.


Fifty-six men (26 with ASPD or schizophrenia and a history of serious violence, 30 non-violent) underwent magnetic resonance imaging and were assessed on PSD. Stereological volumetric brain ratings were examined for group differences and their association with PSD ratings. PSD-brain associations were examined further using voxel-based-morphometry.


The findings revealed: reduced thalamic volume in psychosocially-deprived violent individuals, relative to non-deprived violent individuals and healthy controls; negative association between thalamic volume and abuse ratings (physical and sexual) in violent individuals; and trend-level negative associations between PSD and hippocampal and prefrontal volumes in non-violent individuals. The voxel-based-morphometry analysis detected a negative association between PSD and localised grey matter volumes in the left inferior frontal region across all individuals, and additionally in the left middle frontal and precentral gyri in non-violent individuals.


Violent mentally-disordered individuals with PSD, relative to those with no or minimal PSD, suffer from an additional brain deficit, i.e., reduced thalamic volume; this may affect sensory information processing, and have implications for management, of these individuals. PSD may have a stronger relationship with volumetric loss of stress-linked regions, namely the frontal cortex, in non-violent individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center