Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 76–82 | Cite as

Neuroimaging of Psychopathy and Antisocial Behavior: A Targeted Review

  • R. J. R. BlairEmail author


The goal of this article is to provide a selective and targeted review of the neuroimaging literature on psychopathic tendencies and antisocial behavior and to explore the extent to which this literature supports recent cognitive neuroscientific models of psychopathy and antisocial behavior. The literature reveals that individuals who present with an increased risk for reactive, but not instrumental, aggression show increased amygdala responses to emotionally evocative stimuli. This is consistent with suggestions that such individuals are primed to respond strongly to an inappropriate extent to threatening or frustrating events. In contrast, individuals with psychopathic tendencies show decreased amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex responses to emotionally provocative stimuli or during emotional learning paradigms. This is consistent with suggestions that such individuals face difficulties with basic forms of emotional learning and decision making.


Amygdala Orbital frontal cortex Psychopathy Instrumental aggression Reactive aggression 



No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© US Government  2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mood and Anxiety ProgramNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA

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