Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Psychopaths: brains in search of reward

A recent study realized by the University of Vanderbilt (USA) seems to have discovered new keys on the mechanism that governs part of the acts committed by the psychopaths. According to the investigation, which results have been published in the number of March of the magazine Nature Neuroscience, the brains of the psychopaths seem to be "connected" to keep on looking for a reward to any cost, what opens new routes to understand the mechanisms that direct the behavior of these individuals.

“The psychopaths are seen often like criminals of cold blood who do what they wish without thinking about the consequences”, tells Joshua Buckholtz, student of the Department of Psychology of the university and principal author of the investigation. “We have discovered that a reward system of dopamina hyperreagent might be the cause of some of the most problematic behaviors associated with the psychopathy, like the violent crimes and the abuse of drugs”.

Till now, the investigations realized on these persons had done major emphasis in the fear absence to the castiglo or the absence of fear or empathy, but the new study centers on the opposite, on what these individuals have in abundance: impulsiveness, risky behaviors and a big attraction for the reward. The results obtained during the experiments, in which they have been used tomografías of emission of positrons and other skills of control of the cerebral processes to examine the dopamina liberation, have revealed that these individuals have a strong need for reward, what overcomes any sense of the risk or fear the punishment.

“Our hypothesis is that the psychopathic behaviors are linked by a malfunction in the 'circuit' of reward of the dopamina”, tells Buckholtz. “In this sense, we have discovered that the people at high levels of psychopathic behaviors liberate four times more of dopamina like answer to the administration of amphetamine. It might be that due to this exaggerated dopamina answer, once they center on the possibility of obtaining a reward, the psychopaths are unable to alter his attention in nothing more until they obtain it”, added the investigator.

Source: Psycopaths’ brains wired to seek rewards, not matter the consequences (Science Daily)

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