The psychopath magnetized: insights from brain imaging

Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Jan;16(1):52-60. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.11.008. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Psychopaths commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime, and this places a substantial economic and emotional burden on society. Elucidation of the neural correlates of psychopathy may lead to improved management and treatment of the condition. Although some methodological issues remain, the neuroimaging literature is generally converging on a set of brain regions and circuits that are consistently implicated in the condition: the orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and the anterior and posterior cingulate and adjacent (para)limbic structures. We discuss these findings in the context of extant theories of psychopathy and highlight the potential legal and policy implications of this body of work.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiopathology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Psychopathology
  • Violence