The number nine most viewed post at Brain Posts for 2012 was a post looking at a research study of brain imaging in antisocial personality disorder.
This study used a functional magnetic resonance imaging technique known as functional connectivity. The study compared a group of adolescents with a history of physical or sexual assault compared to control adolescents.
The compared the connectivity between brain regions between the antisocial group and control groups along with psychometric scores on empathy and impulsivity. Antisocial groups tend to show low scores on empathy and high scores on impulsivity.
No brain connectivity differences were found for those with low empathy scores. However, high impulsivity scores in the antisocial group was linked to reduced connectivity between the brain regions of executive function and control (frontal cortex) and the brain regions of behavior and self-referential cognition. The authors concluded that adolescent antisocial impulsivity appears to be linked to a delayed maturation of brain circuits linking executive function, self-cognition and behavior.
In a second post on brain imaging study, I reviewed a study showing children with markers for antisocial personality risk showed reduced amygdala response to viewing sad faces. This brain response may contribute to the lack of social empathy development in those who later emerge with adult antisocial behavior.
Readers with more interest in this topic are invited to click on the link to the original posts were full access is available to the full research manuscripts at the PMID link located at the bottom of the post.
Photo of lorikeet from Tampa Busch Gardens aviary in Tampa, FL from the author's files.