Brain differences in adolescents, psychopaths, lend to their impulsive, risk-taking behavior

in the left anterior cingulate, the right hippocampus, the right insula, and the bilateral caudate. Both groups showed activation in the right orbital frontal cortex, the bilateral thalamus, the cerebellum, and the parietal lobes, and deactivation in the left superior frontal gyrus, the bilateral mid-cingulate cortex, the anterior cingulate, the lenticular nucleus, and the insula.

"The psychopath group's greater activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and insula is likely related to their greater focus on attaining high rewards and lack of consideration of the potential penalties that may occur," says Fishbein. "Activation of the hippocampus in the psychopath group is likely related to the lack of appropriate emotional response to choices that incur penalties.

"Psychopaths' performance deficits correspond to less activation in the prefrontal cortex and more activation in the brain structures sensitive to error monitoring and reward," says Fishbein. "These activations suggest a lack of frontal inhibitory control over risky decisions."


Contact: Leah Ariniello
Society for Neuroscience

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