Paralimbic gray matter reductions in incarcerated adolescent females with psychopathic traits

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Psychopathy-related paralimbic and limbic structural brain abnormalities have been implicated in incarcerated adult and adolescent male samples. However, there have been few neuroimaging studies of psychopathic traits in females in general and no studies from incarcerated female youth in particular. Here we present the first study to examine the relationship between brain gray matter volumes and psychopathic traits (assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version [PCL-YV]) in a sample of maximum-security incarcerated female adolescents (N∈=∈39; mean age∈=∈17.6 years). Consistent with male samples, regional gray matter volumes were negatively related to psychopathic traits in female youth offenders in limbic and paralimbic areas, including orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal cortex, temporal poles, and left hippocampus. These results provide evidence that psychopathic traits manifest similar neural abnormalities across sex and age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent females
  • Incarcerated offenders
  • Paralimbic structures
  • Psychopathic traits
  • Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version (PCL-YV)
  • Voxel-based morphometry (VBM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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