A  A  A   Print
Brain Scans Show Why Psychopaths Don't Feel Your Pain

Brain Scans Show Why Psychopaths Don't Feel Your Pain

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Among other traits, psychopaths feel a lack of empathy when other people are in pain, and brain scans now reveal why that is.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder marked by callousness, manipulation, sensation seeking and antisocial behaviors. About 23 percent of people in prison are psychopaths, compared with about 1 percent of people in the general population.

In this study, researchers used functional MRI to observe brain activity in 121 inmates at a medium-security prison in the United States who were divided into three groups based on the levels of their psychopathy: high, moderate or low.

The participants were shown pictures of physical pain, such as a finger caught in a door or a toe trapped under a heavy object. They were first asked to imagine that these accidents happened to themselves and then to imagine that they happened to others.

When highly psychopathic inmates imagined themselves in these painful situations, they showed higher-than-normal activity in certain brain regions involved in empathy for pain. But these regions failed to become active when they imagined others in pain.

Moreover, when imagining other people in pain, highly psychopathic inmates showed increased activity in a brain area known to be involved in pleasure, according to the study, which was published Sept. 24 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The findings may help lead to new treatment approaches for psychopaths, the researchers said in a journal news release.

More information

Mental Health America has more about personality disorders.

SOURCE: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, news release, Sept. 24, 2013

 

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.