Lifestyle & Belief

Psychopaths have a different brain structure, study says


Psychopathic brain has an abnormal structure says a new study. Above: mass murderer Charles Manson in 2009.


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Psychopaths may have an abnormal brain structure concluded scientists in a new study.

Researchers at King's College, London scanned the brains of numerous killers and rapists and found evidence that their brains have different structures than regular people.

The scientists said that psychopaths even had different structures than those criminals with others types of known behavioral disorders.

"Using MRI scans we found that psychopaths had structural brain abnormalities in key areas of their 'social brains' compared to those who just had ASPD," said Nigel Blackwood from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College and lead author of the study, reported Medical XPress

"This adds to behavioural and developmental evidence that psychopathy is an important subgroup of ASPD with a different neurobiological basis and different treatment needs."

Psychopathy is a mental disorder in which an individual shows amoral and antisocial behavior, including an inability to love, feel empathy and learn from experience.

The study looked at the brains of 44 violent male offenders, as well as 22 healthy non-offenders, using magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

The crimes they committed included rape, murder and serious assault.

According to Reuters, researchers found that 17 of the men met the criteria for psychopathy while 27 did not.

The study found that those diagnosed with psychopathy had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples' emotions, said Reuters.

These areas are also critical for moral behavior.

The new research may have implications for both the treatment of those with the problem and for the justice system for adjudicating matters in which the person has been diagnosed a 'psychopath.'

The study was published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.