Cortex and amygdala morphology in psychopathy

Marina Boccardi, Giovanni B. Frisoni, Robert D. Hare, Enrica Cavedo, Pablo Najt, Michela Pievani, Paul E. Rasser, Mikko P. Laakso, Hannu J. Aronen, Eila Repo-Tiihonen, Olli Vaurio, Paul M. Thompson, Jari Tiihonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychopathy is characterized by abnormal emotional processes, but only recent neuroimaging studies have investigated its cerebral correlates. The study aim was to map local differences of cortical and amygdalar morphology. Cortical pattern matching and radial distance mapping techniques were used to analyze the magnetic resonance images of 26 violent male offenders (age: 32 ± 8) with psychopathy diagnosed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and no schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and in matched controls (age: 35 ± 11). The cortex displayed up to 20% reduction in the orbitofrontal and midline structures (corrected p<0.001 bilaterally). Up to 30% tissue reduction in the basolateral nucleus, and 10-30% enlargement effects in the central and lateral nuclei indicated abnormal structure of the amygdala (corrected p= 0.05 on the right; and symmetrical pattern on the left). Psychopathy features specific morphology of the main cerebral structures involved in cognitive and emotional processing, consistent with clinical and functional data, and with a hypothesis of an alternative evolutionary brain development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 30 2011


  • Amygdala
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cortical pattern matching
  • Neuroimaging
  • Psychopathy
  • Radial distance mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cortex and amygdala morphology in psychopathy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this