A new study may explain why some psychopaths are ‘successful’

Psychopathy is widely recognized as a risk factor for violent behavior, but many psychopathic individuals refrain from antisocial or criminal acts. Understanding what leads these psychopaths to be "successful" has been a mystery. A new study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University sheds light on the mechanisms underlying the formation of this "successful" phenotype. "Psychopathic individuals are very prone to engaging in antisocial behaviors but what our findings suggest is that some may actually be better able to inhibit these impulses than others," said lead author Emily Lasko, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences. "Although we don't know exactly what precipitates this increase in conscientious impulse control over time, we do know that this does occur for individuals high in certain psychopathy traits who have been relatively more 'successful' than...

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Neurological basis for lack of empathy in psychopaths

When individuals with psychopathy imagine others in pain, brain areas necessary for feeling empathy and concern for others fail to become active and be connected to other important regions involved in affective processing and decision-making, reports a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow affect, glibness, manipulation and callousness. Previous research indicates that the rate of psychopathy in prisons is around 23%, greater than the average population which is around 1%. To better understand the neurological basis of empathy dysfunction in psychopaths, neuroscientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on the brains of 121 inmates of a medium-security prison in the USA. Participants were shown visual scenarios illustrating physical pain, such as a finger caught between a door, or a toe caught under...

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