When psychopaths think about other people’s suffering, areas in their brain necessary for empathy and concern fail to activate and connect to other regions, such as those involved in affective processing and decision-making. Instead, they showed increase activation in the ventral striatum – the area known to be involved in feelings of pleasure.
A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience involved the fMRI scans of 40 individuals who suffer from low, medium or high psycopathy – a personality disorder characterised by lack of empathy and remorse, manipulation, glibness and callousness. This mental illness is more common than people realise. Research carried out in England in 2010 suggests that there is one psychopath in every 2,000 people.
By Rebecca Lewis