After numerous MRI scans of previously diagnosed psychopathic prisoners, researchers led by Professor Jean Decety at University of Chicago have completed a study which has revealed that the psychopathic mind works in a way that is entirely different from that of normal people.
The study showed video footage of people being hurt as well as facial expressions of people inflicted with pain to both psychopathic and non-psychopathic individuals. As anticipated, it was observed that psychopathic participants had markedly less activity occurring in the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex than that of the normal participants. These are areas of the brain that allow us to experience emotions like anger, fright and pleasure. What was not anticipated, was a noticeably higher activity in the striatum and insula regions of the brain. Normally, the insula is associated with emotion, yet psychopathy itself is denoted by a highly abnormal lack of empathy.
This was the first ever study conducted in this arena. Perhaps with continued advancements in technology, we will someday be able to discover and preemptively treat individuals that would otherwise become the next Ted Bundy or Charles Manson.
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