, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 149–157 | Cite as

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Psychopathy and Implications for Judgments of Responsibility

  • R. J. R. BlairEmail author
Review Paper


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 



This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH: NIMH.


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© 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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