Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Legal Diganosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alison Rossi (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Mark Zrull

Abstract: Antisocial Personality Disorder, APD, is characterized by manipulation and disregard for the emotions of others, and individuals suffering from this disorder often display behaviors that cause them to end up in the criminal justice system. The disorder prevents these individuals from learning from their mistakes, leading them to commit multiple crimes over their lifetime. Persons with APD can be diagnosed by psychiatrists and psychologists using psychological assessment tools meant to measure the attributes related to the disorder. However, the psychological tools available today are not entirely reliable or well validated and the instruments are not always useful in various situations. Neuroscientists have developed three brain theories that aim to identify the underlying mechanisms causing the symptoms of the disorder, which could lead to additional methods for diagnosis of APD in the legal setting. The first theory, called the Septo-Hippocampal theory, suggests that a dysfunction in the hippocampus causes the symptoms of APD. The second theory, the Amygdaloid theory, suggests that APD is actually caused by a dysfunction in the amygdala. The third theory, Connectivity theory, suggests that there is dysfunction in the connections between the hippocampus and amygdala that results in APD. The emergence of these theories opens the possibility of using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or functional MRI (fMRI) technology as a diagnostic tool for APD. However, none of these theories can adequately explain the occurrence of all cases of APD, suggesting that the dysfunction could be anywhere within the brain system(s) that include the septal nuclei, hippocampus, amygdala, and/or other limbic structures. MRI and fMRI scans may prove to be useless in diagnosing this disorder.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Rossi, A.J. (2015). Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Legal Diganosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Unpublished honors thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2015
Enrichment, adolescent, social, behavior

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