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Seminar Abstract

The lack of empathic concern in psychopathy and its impact on social decision-making

Speaker : Professor Jean Decety, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, USA.
Date : 16th of March 2018, 12:00PM until 1:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    The absence of moral behavior in the presence of otherwise intact intellect in psychopathy has fascinated clinicians and scientists alike. Psychopathy provides a “natural model” in which emotional and/or attentional processes are altered, enabling identification of the downstream effects on cognition and behavior. I will present a series of functional MRI studies that examined component processes of empathy in a large sample (N > 300) of incarcerated psychopaths. I will also discuss morphological abnormalities in the same sample. Together these data converge to atypical processing in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region reciprocally connected with ancient affective systems in brainstem, amygdala, and hypothalamus, which bridges conceptual and affective processes, necessary to guide moral behavior and social decision-making.

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