Aberrant paralimbic gray matter in incarcerated male adolescents with psychopathic traits

Elsa Ermer, Lora M. Cope, Prashanth K. Nyalakanti, Vince D. Calhoun, Kent A. Kiehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the relationship between brain structure and psychopathic traits in maximum-security incarcerated male adolescents, and to examine whether the associations between brain volumes in paralimbic and limbic regions and psychopathic traits observed in incarcerated adult men extend to an independent sample of incarcerated male adolescents. Method: A structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of regional gray matter volumes by using voxel-based morphometry in maximum-security incarcerated male adolescents (N = 218) assessed for psychopathic traits using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version (PCL-YV). All analyses controlled for effects of age, substance use, and brain size. Results: Consistent with hypotheses and the adult literature, psychopathic traits were associated with decreased regional gray matter volumes in diffuse paralimbic regions, including orbitofrontal cortex, bilateral temporal poles, and posterior cingulate cortex. Conclusions: These results strengthen the interpretation that paralimbic regions are central for understanding neural dysfunction associated with psychopathic traits and that psychopathy is best conceptualized as a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-103.e3
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • antisocial
  • juvenile delinquency
  • paralimbic dysfunction
  • psychopathy
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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