Psychopathy moderates the relationship between orbitofrontal and striatal alterations and violence: The investigation of individuals accused of homicide

Yin Hung Lam, Yaling Yang, Robert A. Schug, Chenbo Han, Jianghong Liu, Tatia M.C. Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Brain structural abnormalities in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and striatum (caudate and putamen) have been observed in violent individuals. However, a uni-modal neuroimaging perspective has been used and prior findings have been mixed. The present study takes the multimodal structural brain imaging approaches to investigate the differential gray matter volumes (GMV) and cortical thickness (CTh) in the OFC and striatum between violent (accused of homicide) and non-violent (not accused of any violent crimes) individuals with different levels of psychopathic traits (interpersonal and unemotional qualities, factor 1 psychopathy and the expressions of antisocial disposition and impulsivity, factor 2 psychopathy). Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging data, psychopathy and demographic information were assessed in sixty seven non-violent or violent adults. The results showed that the relationship between violence and the GMV in the right lateral OFC varied across different levels of the factor 1 psychopathy. At the subcortical level, the psychopathy level (the factor 1 psychopathy) moderated the positive relationship of violence with both left and right putamen GMV as well as left caudate GMV. Although the CTh findings were not significant, overall findings suggested that psychopathic traits moderated the relationship between violence and the brain structural morphology in the OFC and striatum. In conclusion, psychopathy takes upon a significant role in moderating violent behavior which gives insight to design and implement prevention measures targeting violent acts, thereby possibly mitigating their occurrence within the society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number579
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Cortical thickness
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Psychopathy
  • Striatum
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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