Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A psychopath lacks empathy just like a person with frontal head injury, study suggests

Date:
January 25, 2011
Source:
University of Haifa
Summary:
People diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury.

People diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa. "Our findings show that people who have psychopathic symptoms behave as though they are suffering frontal brain damage," said Dr. Simone Shamay-Tsoory, who conducted the study.

Related Articles


Psychopathy is a personality disorder that finds expression in extreme anti-social behavior and intentional harm to others, including a lack of compassion and empathy. An existing explanation for such behavior suggests inability to comprehend the existence of emotions in others. However, the fact that many psychopaths act with sophistication and deceit with intention to harm others, indicates that they actually have a good grasp of the mental capacity of others -- and are even capable of using that knowledge in order to cause them harm.

Earlier research by Dr. Shamay-Tsoory has examined individuals with frontal head injury, i.e., damage to parts of the brain that are responsible for emotional functioning. She has shown that people suffering this type of brain damage have difficulty showing empathy. Having observed similar emotional deficiency in psychopathic behavior, she set out to see if there is in fact a similarity between the two cases.

The current study assessed 17 people who had been diagnosed by psychiatrists as psychopathic -- and not suffering from any known brain damage; and another 25 individuals suffering frontal lobe injury. Each of the participants underwent a computerized test examining cognitive ability to recognize feelings in another and the ability to demonstrate empathy for another's emotions. They were also tested to gage their capacity to understand another's thoughts. The results of these tests showed that both groups demonstrated a similar difficulty in showing empathy, while two control groups of individuals with no known mental disorders or brain damage and individuals with non-frontal brain damage both showed different results with positive empathy capabilities.

"Seeing as psychopathic behavior is similar to that of a person with brain damage, it could be that it could benefit from similar forms of treatment," Dr. Shamay-Tsoory noted.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Haifa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Hagai Harari, Judith Aharon-Peretz, Yechiel Levkovitz. The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in affective theory of mind deficits in criminal offenders with psychopathic tendencies. Cortex, 2010; 46 (5): 668 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2009.04.008
  2. S. G. Shamay-Tsoory. The Neural Bases for Empathy. The Neuroscientist, 2010; DOI: 10.1177/1073858410379268

Cite This Page:

University of Haifa. "A psychopath lacks empathy just like a person with frontal head injury, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125103825.htm>.
University of Haifa. (2011, January 25). A psychopath lacks empathy just like a person with frontal head injury, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125103825.htm
University of Haifa. "A psychopath lacks empathy just like a person with frontal head injury, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125103825.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins