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Facial emotion processing in criminal psychopathy: Preliminary functional magnetic resonance imaging study

  • Quinton Deeley (a1), Eileen Daly (a1), Simon Surguladze (a2), Nigel Tunstall (a3), Gill Mezey (a4), Dominic Beer (a5), Anita Ambikapathy (a1), Dene Robertson (a1), Vincent Giampietro (a6), Michael J. Brammer (a6), Amory Clarke (a7), John Dowsett (a7), Tom Fahy (a8), Mary L. Phillips (a9) and Declan G. Murphy (a10)...
Abstract
Background

It has been suggested that people with psychopathic disorders lack empathy because they have deficits in processing distress cues (e.g. fearful facial expressions).

Aims

To investigate brain function when individuals with psychopathy and a control group process facial emotion.

Method

Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging we compared six people scoring ⩾25 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised and nine non-psychopathic healthy volunteers during an implicit emotion processing task using fearful, happy and neutral faces.

Results

The psychopathy group showed significantly less activation than the control group in fusiform and extrastriate cortices when processing both facial emotions. However, emotion type affected response pattern. Both groups increased fusiform and extrastriate cortex activation when processing happy faces compared with neutral faces, but this increase was significantly smaller in the psychopathy group. In contrast, when processing fearful faces compared with neutral faces, the control group showed increased activation but the psychopathy group decreased activation in the fusiform gyrus.

Conclusions

People with psychopathy have biological differences from controls when processing facial emotion, and the pattern of response differs according to emotion type.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Declan Murphy, Section of Brain Maturation, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. Email: D.Murphy@iop.kcl.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Facial emotion processing in criminal psychopathy: Preliminary functional magnetic resonance imaging study

  • Quinton Deeley (a1), Eileen Daly (a1), Simon Surguladze (a2), Nigel Tunstall (a3), Gill Mezey (a4), Dominic Beer (a5), Anita Ambikapathy (a1), Dene Robertson (a1), Vincent Giampietro (a6), Michael J. Brammer (a6), Amory Clarke (a7), John Dowsett (a7), Tom Fahy (a8), Mary L. Phillips (a9) and Declan G. Murphy (a10)...
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