Lancet Psychiatry: Persistent antisocial behaviour linked to differences in brain structure


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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A study published in the Lancet Psychiatry suggests there are characteristic differences in brain structure in individuals who exhibit life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour.

The study analysed structural MRI data collected at 45 years of age from individuals born in Dunedin, New Zealand, between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973. Of 672 participants, 80 (12%) were classified as having life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour, 151 (23%) as having adolescence-limited antisocial behaviour, and 441 (66%) as having low antisocial behaviour.

Individuals with life-course-persistent trajectory had a smaller mean surface area (standardised β=-0.18; 95% CI -0.24 to -0.11; P<.0001 and lower mean cortical thickness ci to p="0.020)" than did those in the low group. life-course-persistent group had reduced surface area of anatomically defined parcels thinner cortex encompassing circumscribed frontal temporal regions associated with executive function affect regulation motivation.>

The authors say the study provides initial evidence of clear structural brain differences between individuals with life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour and those on the adolescence-limited trajectory, who have a relatively good prognosis.