Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Searching for a psychopath? Mind the gap!

In Philip Kerr's novel A Philosophical Investigation the authorities scan people's brains and those thought to be at risk of behaving violently or antisocially are monitored closely by the authorities. A team of researchers, led by Adrian Raine from the University of Pennsylvania, have brought this scenario a small step closer in a study of 87 people. They looked for the presence, or absence, of a gap between areas of the brain which closes over in most people but can remain open if the brain develops abnormally. The gap is called the cavum septum pellucidum and 19 of the participants had it. Those who had the gap had significantly higher levels of antisocial personality, psychopathy, arrests and convictions, even if they had not been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Those who had been charged or convicted of an offence had a bigger gap than other participants and the results could not be attributed to prior trauma, head injuries, demographic factors or mental illness.

Raine, Adrian ... [et al] - Neurodevelopmental marker for limbic maldevelopment in antisocial personality disorder British Journal of Psychiatry September 2010, 197(3), 186-192

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