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Researchers have found evidence that demonstrates that violent psychopaths have a different brain structure than other individuals. The evidence suggests that there is a structural difference in the brains of these men.
Researchers have found evidence that demonstrates that violent psychopaths have a different brain structure than other individuals. Scientists scanned the brains of men who were considered violent psychopaths, those who were imprisoned for murder, rape and other violent crimes. The evidence suggests that there is a structural difference in the brains of these men. These new findings could lead to better treatment plans for such individuals.


Convicted criminals who are psychopathic in nature tend to commit more violent crimes than other criminals and also have a history of repeated violent crimes upon release from prison. Additionally, research states that psychopaths are more likely to engage in premeditated acts of violence or crime. It is estimated that psychopaths account for approximately 1% of the population.

Less Grey Matter

Grey matter is a primary element in the central nervous system. It is dispersed throughout various portions of the brain in the cerebral hemispheres. Grey matter is comprised of neuronal cell bodies, glial cells and capillaries. Grey matter is a component in the function of muscle control, emotions, perception, vision, hearing and speaking. If a person has less than a typical amount of grey matter in any areas of the brain, it is likely that the person will experience the effects of brain damage and the loss of certain brain function.

The Effects of Damaged Brain Areas With Less Grey Matter

In the psychopathic brain, MRI scans reveal a significantly less amount of grey matter in the areas of the brain that are responsible for empathy, feelings of guilt and the basic understanding of other people’s emotions. Additionally, persons with less grey matter who are deemed psychopathic will have an inappropriate reaction to feelings of fear and stress, a sense of irresponsibility and a tendency to manipulate, exploit or harm others in a predatory fashion.

Psychopathy vs. Anti-Social Personality Disorder

There are clear differences in men with psychopathy and those with anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). Psychopaths appear to be cold-hearted, lacking remorse, without the ability to understand the intentions and emotions of others and the inability to feel remorse. They often result to using violence as a means of getting what they want. Additionally, psychopaths may begin to act out and offend at an earlier age. They tend to respond poorly to treatment for their behaviors in their adult life and they often become repeat offenders.

Persons with ASPD are often described as being hotheaded and having an aggressive reaction in times of frustration or during a perceived threat. Individuals who have been diagnosed with true ASPD tend to respond better to cognitive or behavioral treatment programs than other types of treatment. Defining these sub-groups of criminals will have a positive effect on their treatment options and possibly on rehabilitation as well. Psychopaths and people with ASPD have very different motivations for their crimes and therefore need to be grouped and treated differently.


In a recent study, researchers have discovered that the brain scans of psychopaths reveled that they have less grey matter in certain areas of the brain than that of typical brains or the brains of non-violent criminals. This finding is important in the judicial treatment of these criminals and has implications for the way their criminal cases will be handled within the court system. Separating true psychopaths from the anti-social personality disorder population will help to better understand that psychopaths have a brain disorder, which will likely change the way treatment plans are developed.