, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 149–157

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Psychopathy and Implications for Judgments of Responsibility

Review Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12152-008-9016-6

Cite this article as:
Blair, R.J.R. Neuroethics (2008) 1: 149. doi:10.1007/s12152-008-9016-6


Psychopathy is a developmental disorder associated with specific forms of emotional dysfunction and an increased risk for both frustration-based reactive aggression and goal-directed instrumental antisocial behavior. While the full behavioral manifestation of the disorder is under considerable social influence, the basis of this disorder appears to be genetic. At the neural level, individuals with psychopathy show atypical responding within the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, the roles of the amygdala in stimulus-reinforcement learning and responding to emotional expressions and vmPFC in the representation of reinforcement expectancies are compromised. The implications of these functional impairments for responsibility are discussed.


Psychopathy Emotion Amygdala Responsibility 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mood & Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental HealthNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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