Review. The amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex: Functional contributions and dysfunction in psychopathy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

190 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current paper examines the functional contributions of the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the evidence that the functioning of these systems is compromised in individuals with psychopathy. The amygdala is critical for the formation of stimulus-reinforcement associations, both punishment and reward based, and the processing of emotional expressions. vmPFC is critical for the representation of reinforcement expectancies and, owing to this, decision making. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging data from individuals with psychopathy are examined. It is concluded that these critical functions of the amygdala and vmPFC, and their interaction, are compromised in individuals with the disorder. It is argued that these impairments lead to the development of psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2557-2565
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume363
Issue number1503
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 12 2008

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amygdala
Amygdala
Prefrontal Cortex
Reinforcement
Neuroimaging
Punishment
Decision making
Reward
decision making
Decision Making
Processing
prefrontal cortex
Reinforcement (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Psychopathy
  • Venromedial perfrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

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AB - The current paper examines the functional contributions of the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the evidence that the functioning of these systems is compromised in individuals with psychopathy. The amygdala is critical for the formation of stimulus-reinforcement associations, both punishment and reward based, and the processing of emotional expressions. vmPFC is critical for the representation of reinforcement expectancies and, owing to this, decision making. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging data from individuals with psychopathy are examined. It is concluded that these critical functions of the amygdala and vmPFC, and their interaction, are compromised in individuals with the disorder. It is argued that these impairments lead to the development of psychopathy.

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