Brain abnormalities in antisocial individuals: implications for the law

Authors


Abstract

With the increasing popularity in the use of brain imaging on antisocial individuals, an increasing number of brain imaging studies have revealed structural and functional impairments in antisocial, psychopathic, and violent individuals. This review summarizes key findings from brain imaging studies on antisocial/aggressive behavior. Key regions commonly found to be impaired in antisocial populations include the prefrontal cortex (particularly orbitofrontal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), superior temporal gyrus, amygdala–hippocampal complex, and anterior cingulate cortex. Key functions of these regions are reviewed to provide a better understanding on how deficits in these regions may predispose to antisocial behavior. Objections to the use of imaging findings in a legal context are outlined, and alternative perspectives raised. It is argued that brain dysfunction is a risk factor for antisocial behavior and that it is likely that imaging will play an increasing (albeit limited) role in legal decision-making. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary