The neurobiological underpinnings of psychopathy

Stéphane A. De Brito*, Ian J. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter provides an overview of recent neuroscience research that has examined the neurobiological underpinnings of adult psychopathy and psychopathic tendencies in antisocial youths. It describes the syndrome of psychopathy, its assessment, common misconceptions, and two prominent subtyping approaches to psychopathy. The fact that most offenders with psychopathy have a long history of antisocial behavior dating back to childhood is consistent with the view that personality disorders exhibit their first manifestations in childhood or late adolescence to continue into adulthood. The sweat glands, activity of which underlies variations in electrodermal activity, are under similar autonomic control to the cardiovascular system. The chapter examines the most recent functional (fMRI) and structural (sMRI) magnetic resonance imaging studies that have focused on the adult syndrome of psychopathy as well as the smaller body of evidence that has focused on youths with CP/HCU traits, as it might provide some information about the possible neurode-velopmental precursors of the adult syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Forensic Neuroscience
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9781118650868
ISBN (Print)9781118650929
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


  • Adult psychopathy
  • Adult syndrome
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Electrodermal activity
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Structural magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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