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Psychopathy is a personality disorder associated with severe emotional and interpersonal consequences and persistent antisocial behavior. Neurobiological models of psychopathy emphasize impairments in emotional processing, attention, and integration of information across large-scale neural networks in the brain. One of the largest integrative hubs in the brain is the corpus callosum (CC) – a large white matter structure that connects the two cerebral hemispheres.
The current study examines CC volume, measured via Freesurfer parcellation, in a large sample (n = 495) of incarcerated men who were assessed for psychopathic traits using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).
Psychopathy was associated with reduced volume across all five sub-regions of the CC. These relationships were primarily driven by the affective/interpersonal elements of psychopathy (PCL-R Factor 1), as no significant associations were found between the CC and the lifestyle/antisocial traits of psychopathy. The observed effects were not attributable to differences in substance use severity, age, IQ, or total brain volume.
These findings align with suggestions that core psychopathic traits may be fostered by reduced integrative capacity across large-scale networks in the brain.
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