Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains.
The researchers, based at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said the differences in psychopaths' brains mark them out even from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders, and from healthy non-offenders.
Nigel Blackwood, who led the study, said the ability to use brain scans to identify and diagnose this sub-group of violent criminals has important implications for treatment.
The study showed that psychopaths, who are characterized by a lack of empathy, had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples' emotions. While cognitive and behavioral treatments may benefit people with anti-social personality disorders, the same approach may not work for psychopaths with brain damage, Blackwood said.
The findings also have implications for the justice system and the defense of insanity.
Read more from Reuters.