The Brains Of Psychopathic Children Are Smaller (M)

Cold and unemotional children tend to have smaller brains along with differences in how areas of their brain are connected.

Cold and unemotional children tend to have smaller brains along with differences in how areas of their brain are connected.


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Psychopaths Lack This Natural Response

Psychopathic traits leave a gap where a natural response should be.

Psychopathic traits leave a gap where a natural response should be.

Psychopaths cannot spot real facial emotions of sadness or distress, new research finds.

It may partly be why psychopaths are unlikely to help others in distress.

Dr Amy Dawel, who led the study, explained:

“For most people, if we see someone who is genuinely upset, you feel bad for them and it motivates you to help them.

People who are very high on the psychopathy spectrum don’t show this response.”

For the study, 140 people looked at photographs of others displaying different emotions, like sadness, happiness and disgust.

Sometimes, though, the person in the photo was faking it and sometimes it was a genuine emotion.

Dr Dawel explained the results:

“We found people with high levels of psychopathic traits don’t feel any worse for someone who is genuinely upset than someone who is faking it.

They also seem to have problems telling if the upset is real or fake.

As a result, they are not nearly as willing to help someone who is expressing genuine distress as most people are.”

Psychopaths had difficulty with the emotions related to distress, Dr Dawel said:

“For other emotions such as anger, disgust, and happy, high psychopathy individuals had no problems telling if someone was faking it.

The results were very specific to expressions of distress.”

It is clear that psychopaths do not respond to emotions in the same way other people do.

Dr Dawel said:

“There seems to be a genetic contribution to these traits, we see the start of them quite early in childhood.

Understanding exactly what is going wrong with emotions in psychopathy will help us to identify these problems early and hopefully intervene in ways that promote moral development.”

The study was published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment (Dawel et al., 2018).

How To Get A Psychopath To Feel Empathy (S)

The findings could help teach psychopaths how to consider the thoughts and feelings of those around them.

The findings could help teach psychopaths how to consider the thoughts and feelings of those around them.


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Psychopaths Prefer This Type of Music

Psychopaths do not particularly like classical music — no matter what film portrayals of psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter might suggest.

Psychopaths do not particularly like classical music — no matter what film portrayals of psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter might suggest.

Psychopaths prefer rap music, a new study finds.

Songs like “No Diggity” by Blackstreet and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem were both linked to higher psychopathy scores.

In contrast, pop songs like “My Sharona” by The Knack and “Titanium” by Sia were linked to the lowest levels of psychopathy.

The conclusions come from research in which 200 people were played 260 songs, along with taking tests of psychopathy.

Psychopaths are actually harder to spot than their media portrayal would have you believe.

The researchers hope this type of musical test will help with the identification of psychopaths.

Dr Pascal Wallisch, the study’s first author, thinks it may be possible to root out psychopaths from their playlists.

The team will be conducting a larger study to verify their findings.

The study, conducted by researchers at New York University is currently unpublished.

Psychopaths Naturally Excel In This Dark Skill

Psychopaths naturally excel in one dark skill.

Psychopaths naturally excel in one dark skill.

Psychopaths are much better at learning to lie than the rest of us, new research finds.

It is a natural capacity just waiting to be tapped.

The research compared people with high and low psychopathic traits.

The results showed that psychopaths learned to lie quicker.

Dr Tatia Lee, study co-author, said:

“The stark contrast between individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in lying performance following two training sessions is remarkable, given that there were no significant differences in lying performance between the two groups prior to training.”

Dr Robin Shao, the study’s first author, said:

“High psychopathy is characterized by untruthfulness and manipulativeness but the evidence so far was not clear on whether high-psychopathic individuals in the general population tend to lie more or better than others.

Our findings provide evidence that people with high psychopathic traits might just be better at learning how to lie.”

Participants in the study looked at photos and then were sometimes told to lie about whether they had seen the person before.

Reaction times and brain scans evaluated their performance.

Dr Lee said:

“During lying, the ‘true’ information needs to be suppressed and reversed.

Thus, lying requires a series of processes in the brain including attention, working memory, inhibitory control and conflict resolution which we found to be reduced in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits.

By contrast, in individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits this lie-related brain activity increased.

The additional ‘effort’ it took their brains to process untruthful responses may be one of the reasons why they didn’t improve their lying speed.”

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry (Shao et al., 2017).

The 2 Ways A Psychopath’s Brain Is Really Unusual

Brain scans of 49 criminals predicted how many crimes they had been convicted of.

Brain scans of 49 criminals predicted how many crimes they had been convicted of.

Psychopaths are not ‘aliens’, but people who make bad, short-sighted-decisions, argues a Harvard neuroscientist.

They are everyday human beings whose brains are wired differently to the rest of us.

Just how differently is revealed in a new study published in the journal Neuron.

The study found that psychopaths:

  1. focus mostly on reward,
  2. and don’t think much about the consequences of their actions.

This is quite different to most people whose natural response is to consider:

  1. what they can lose above what they can gain,
  2. and what the consequences will be of their actions.

For the research, Dr Buckholtz and colleagues scanned the brains of 49 prison inmates.

Dr Josh Buckholtz, explained:

“For years, we have been focused on the idea that psychopaths are people who cannot generate emotion and that’s why they do all these terrible things.

But what what we care about with psychopaths is not the feelings they have or don’t have, it’s the choices they make.

Psychopaths commit an astonishing amount of crime, and this crime is both devastating to victims and astronomically costly to society as a whole.

And even though psychopaths are often portrayed as cold-blooded, almost alien predators, we have been showing that their emotional deficits may not actually be the primary driver of these bad choices.

Because it’s the choices of psychopaths that cause so much trouble, we’ve been trying to understand what goes on in their brains when the make decisions that involve trade-offs between the costs and benefits of action.

In this most recent paper…we are able to look at brain-based measures of reward and value and the communication between different brain regions that are involved in decision making.”

What the scans showed was that the brains of criminals were highly sensitive to rewards.

Dr Buckholtz said:

“So the more psychopathic a person is, the greater the magnitude of that striatal response.

That suggests that the way they are calculating the value rewards is dysregulated — they may over-represent the value of immediate reward.”

The ventral striatum is key in how we respond to rewards, Dr Buckholtz explained:

“We mapped the connections between the ventral striatum and other regions known to be involved in decision-making, specifically regions of the prefrontal cortex known to regulate striatal response.

When we did that, we found that connections between the striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex were much weaker in people with psychopathy.”

What this means is that psychopaths don’t think very hard about the consequences of their actions: they are mostly focused on the rewards.

It turned out that the response in this area of the brain actually predicted the number of crimes the inmates had been convicted of.

Dr Buckholtz said:

“They’re not aliens, they’re people who make bad decisions.

The same kind of short-sighted, impulsive decision-making that we see in psychopathic individuals has also been noted in compulsive over-eaters and substance abusers.

If we can put this back into the domain of rigorous scientific analysis, we can see psychopaths aren’t inhuman, they’re exactly what you would expect from humans who have this particular kind of brain wiring dysfunction.”

The study was published in the journal Neuron (Buckholtz et al., 2017).