Differentiating among prefrontal substrates in psychopathy: neuropsychological test findings

Neuropsychology. 2006 Mar;20(2):153-165. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.20.2.153.


Frontal lobe and consequent executive dysfunction have long been related to psychopathy. More recently, there have been suggestions that specific regions of frontal cortex, rather than all of frontal cortex, may be implicated in psychopathy. To examine this issue, the authors presented 25 individuals with psychopathy and 30 comparison individuals with measures preferentially indexing the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC; object alternation task), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC; spatial alternation task), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC; number-Stroop reading and counting tasks). The individuals with psychopathy showed significant impairment on the measure preferentially sensitive to OFC functioning. In contrast, the 2 groups did not show impairment on the measures preferentially sensitive to the functioning of the DLPFC or ACC. These results are interpreted with reference to executive dysfunction accounts of the disorder.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / pathology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Prisoners
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Psychopathology / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Statistics as Topic