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EEG abnormalities in psychopath and non-psychopath violent offenders

Ana Calzada-Reyes, Alfredo Alvarez-Amador, Lídice Galán-García & Mitchell Valdés-Sosa.

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine

Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 19–26



Previous EEG studies attempted to examine violent behavior as homogeneous construct. Up to date, there is no other research studying Low-Resolution Brain Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA) technique in psychopath offenders.



To find electrophysiological differences specifically related to the psychopathy construct and independent of the violent behavior. The current investigation compares the QEEG and the current source density measures of violent psychopath offenders to a non-psychopath violent group.



The resting EEG activity and LORETA for the EEG spectral fast bands were evaluated in 58 violent offenders, 31 with and 27 without psychopathy according to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – Revised. All subjects were assessed using the DSM IV-R criteria. The EEG visual inspection characteristics and the use of frequency domain quantitative analysis techniques (Narrow band spectral parameters) are described.



QEEG analysis showed a pattern of excess of beta activity on the left parieto-temporal regions and bilateral occipital areas and decrease of alpha band on the left centro-temporal and parieto-central derivations in the psychopath group. LORETA signified an increase of beta activity (17.18 Hz) in psychopath group relative to a non- psychopath group within fronto-temporo-limbic regions.



These findings indicate that QEEG analysis and techniques of source localization may reveal differences in brain electrical activity among offenders with psychopathy, which was not obvious to visual inspection. Taken together, these results suggest that abnormalities in a fronto-temporo-limbic network play a relevant role in the neurobiological basis of psychopathy.



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