Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2013 Contents told to imagine the accident happening to
themselves or to someone else. They were
also shown images of neutral ojects, such
as a hand on a doorknob.
When the highly psychopathic individuals
imagined the accidents happening to them-
selves, their brains lit up in the anterior
insula, the anterior midcingulate cortex, the
somatosensory cortex and the right amygdala
all areas involved in empathy. The
response was quite pronounced, suggesting
psychopathic individuals were sensitive to
thoughts of pain.
But when the highly psychopathic inmates
imagined the accident happening to others,
their brains failed to light up in the regions
associated with empathy. In fact, an area
involved in pleasure, the ventral striatum,
lit up instead. Furthermore, these individuals
showed abnormal connectivity between the
insula and the ventromedial prefrontal cor-
tex, an area important for empathetic deci-
By contrast, the less psychopathic indi-
viduals showed more normal brain activation
and connectivity in these areas.
The strange patterns of brain activation
and connectivity in highly psychopathic
individuals suggest they did not experience
empathy when imagining the pain of others,
and possibly took pleasure in it.
The findings could help inform interven-
tion programs for psychopathy, the
researchers say. Having psychopathic people
imagine themselves in pain first could be
used in cognitive behavior therapies as a
way of kick-starting empathy, they wrote
in the study detailed today (Sept. 24) in the
journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
In fact, past research has shown psy-
chopaths can feel empathy, when explicitly
asked to, suggesting this ability to understand
another person’s feelings may be repressed
rather than missing entirely in psychopathic
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, September 26, 2013
Psychopaths are usually described as lacking
empathy, and a new study reveals the neurological
basis for this dearth of feeling.
When people with psychopathy imagine others
experiencing pain, brain regions associated with
empathy and concern for others fail to activate or
connect with brain areas involved in emotional pro-
cessing and decision-making, researchers report.
In addition to a lack of remorse, psychopathy is
characterised by shallow affect, glibness, manipulation
and callousness. The rate of psychopathy is about
23 per cent in prisons, compared with about 1 per
cent in the general population, research shows.
To investigate the neurological roots of the disorder,
researchers studied 121 inmates at a medium-security
prison in the United States. The inmates were divided
into highly psychopathic, moderately psychopathic
and weakly psychopathic groups on the basis of a
widely used diagnostic tool called the Hare Psy-
Researchers scanned the brains of the participants
while showing them images depicting physical pain,
such as a finger getting caught in a door or a toe
caught under a heavy object. The participants were
Taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce
the risk of stroke, a new review suggests.
Researchers looked at 14 clinical trials involving
nearly 50,000 participants, and found that people
who took vitamin B had a seven per cent decreased
risk of stroke compared with people who took a
However, among those who did have strokes, taking
vitamin B supplements did not appear to affect the
severity of strokes or the risk of dying from a stroke,
according to the study, published Sept. 18 in the
A number of factors may influence the ability of
vitamin B to reduce a person’s stroke risk, the
researchers said. These factors include how well a
person’s body absorbs the vitamins, the concentrations
of vitamins in the blood and whether a person has
kidney disease or high blood pressure, said study
researcher Dr. Xu Yuming, a neurologist at Zhengzhou
University in China.
“Before you begin taking any supplements, you
should always talk to your doctor,” Yuming said.
In a stroke, the blood supply to the brain is inter-
rupted by a blood clot or the bursting of a blood
vessel. Common risk factors for stroke include high
blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.
However, previous studies indicate that these risk
factors explain only half of the risk for stroke, the
researchers said. Some studies have suggested that
high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the
blood could potentially be a risk factor for vascular
disease, which prompted researchers to examine
whether vitamin B supplements could reduce homo-
cysteine levels and, in turn, lower stroke risk. But
such studies have found mixed results.
Blame the Brain:
Why psychopaths lack empathy
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Researchers looked at 14 clinical trials involving nearly
50,000 participants, and found that people who took
vitamin B had a seven per cent decreased risk of
stroke compared with people who took a placebo.
Vitamin b supplements
may reduce stroke risk
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