Reduced cortical thickness and increased surface area in antisocial personality disorder

Neuroscience. 2016 Nov 19;337:143-152. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.08.052. Epub 2016 Sep 4.


Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), one of whose characteristics is high impulsivity, is of great interest in the field of brain structure and function. However, little is known about possible impairments in the cortical anatomy in ASPD, in terms of cortical thickness (CTh) and surface area (SA), as well as their possible relationship with impulsivity. In this neuroimaging study, we first investigated the changes of CTh and SA in ASPD patients, in comparison to those of healthy controls, and then performed correlation analyses between these measures and the ability of impulse control. We found that ASPD patients showed thinner cortex while larger SA in several specific brain regions, i.e., bilateral superior frontal gyrus (SFG), orbitofrontal and triangularis, insula cortex, precuneus, middle frontal gyrus (MFG), middle temporal gyrus (MTG), and left bank of superior temporal sulcus (STS). In addition, we also found that the ability of impulse control was positively correlated with CTh in the SFG, MFG, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), pars triangularis, superior temporal gyrus (STG), and insula cortex. To our knowledge, this study is the first to reveal simultaneous changes in CTh and SA in ASPD, as well as their relationship with impulsivity. These cortical structural changes may introduce uncontrolled and callous behavioral characteristic in ASPD patients, and these potential biomarkers may be very helpful in understanding the pathomechanism of ASPD.

Keywords: MRI; cortical anatomy; cortical thickness; impulsivity; response inhibition; surface area.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / pathology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Young Adult