Intrinsic limbic and paralimbic networks are associated with criminal psychopathy

Michelle Juárez, Kent A. Kiehl, Vince D. Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background: Psychopathy is a personality disorder associated with impairments in decision-making, empathy, and impulsivity. Recent brain imaging studies suggest that psychopathy is associated with abnormalities in limbic/paralimbic brain regions. To date, no studies have examined functional brain connectivity measures using independent component analyses (ICA) in adults with psychopathy. Here, we test hypotheses regarding paralimbic connectivity in adult incarcerated individuals stratified by psychopathy scores. Methods: One hundred and two prison inmates were rated using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). FMRI data were collected while subjects performed an auditory target detection "oddball" task. FMRI data were analyzed using group ICA to identify functional networks responding to the oddball task correlating with psychopathy scores. Results: Components demonstrating significant correlations with psychopathy included a default mode network, a frontoparietal component, and a visual/posterior cingulate component. Modulation trends correlated strongly with factor 2 (impulsivity) and total PCL-R scores in the frontoparietal and visual/posterior cingulate networks, and with factor 1 (affective) scores within the default mode network. The posterior cingulate region factored significantly in the modulation trends observed. Conclusion: Consistent with the hypothesis of limbic/paralimbic abnormalities associated with psychopathy, modulation trends correlated strongly with PCL-R scores. There is strong evidence to implicate the posterior cingulate in aberrant functional connectivity associated with the manifestation of psychopathic symptoms. Future investigations comparing functional trends associated with the posterior cingulate in psychopathic subjects may provide further insight into the manifestation of this disorder. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1930
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory oddball
  • Criminal
  • FMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Independent component analysis
  • Limbic
  • Paralimbic
  • Posterior cingulate
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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