Article Text

Download PDFPDF
When viewing empathy-eliciting scenarios, incarcerated men with high psychopathy display differences in brain activity compared with those with low psychopathy

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


Question: What are the differences in neural response of incarcerated men with and without psychopathy when viewing images of other people being hurt or expressing pain?

People: Eighty incarcerated men (age 18–50 years), 27 with high psychopathy (cases) and 53 with intermediate or low psychopathy (controls), matched to cases on the basis of age, ethnicity, IQ, comorbid DSM -IV Axis II disorders and past drug use and dependence.

Setting: Medium security prison in North America.

Risk factors: Psychopathy as assessed using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). Men with a score of at least 30 were categorised as having high psychopathy (n=27); scores 21–29 as intermediate psychopathy (n=28); and scores of 20 or less as low psychopathy (n=25).

Outcomes: Neurohaemodynamic response as measured by functional MRI (fMRI) while viewing two task conditions. The pain interactions task involved 48 visual scenarios depicting a person intentionally harming another person, in which faces were not shown, interspersed with 48 control …

View Full Text


  • Sources of funding US National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Competing interests None.