Why do some people become psychopaths?
Research has suggested that the areas of the brain involved in emotion processing, empathising and decision making – for example amygdala, insula and ventromedial prefrontal cortex – show reduced activity in people with psychopathic characteristics when they see other people in distress or try to learn consequences of their actions. The impaired functioning of these areas of the brain affects the ability of individuals with psychopathy to form associations between stimuli and consequences, such as hurting other people and the fear and distress others display as a consequence, or making a poor choice and receiving a punishment. Altogether, the reduced activity within these areas of the brain impairs responses to emotional stimuli and decision making. The key question is: do these differences in the brain make someone into a psychopath, or does their behaviour change the brain?