Psychopathy: Cognitive and neural dysfunction

R. James R. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Psychopathy is a developmental disorder marked by emotional deficits and an increased risk for antisocial behavior. It is not equivalent to the diagnosis Antisocial Personality Disorder, which concentrates only on the increased risk for antisocial behavior and not a specific causeie, the reduced empathy and guilt that constitutes the emotional deficit. The current review considers data from adults with psychopathy with respect to the main cognitive accounts of the disorder that stress either a primary attention deficit or a primary emotion deficit. In addition, the current review considers data regarding the neurobiology of this disorder. Dysfunction within the amygdala's role in reinforcement learning and the role of ventromedial frontal cortex in the representation of reinforcement value is stressed. Data is also presented indicating potential difficulties within parts of temporal and posterior cingulate cortex. Suggestions are made with respect to why these deficits lead to the development of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalDialogues in clinical neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Emotion
  • Psychopathy
  • Ventromedial frontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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