Scientists have found something very strange in the brains of psychopaths
Harvard University researchers claim the same brain defect may stop them thinking about the consequences of their actions.
One expert compared their minds to compulsive eaters – or even Heroin addicts.
The research – which involved scanning the brains of 49 medium-security inmates – aims to change the popular image of psychopaths as cold, calculating killers.
Participants who displayed psychotic tendencies showed greater activity in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum – which evaluates rewards.
Research leader Dr Josh Buckholtz said: "They're not aliens, they're people who make bad decisions.
"The same kind of short-sighted, impulsive decision-making that we see in psychopathic individuals has also been noted in compulsive over-eaters and substance abusers.
"For years, we have been focused on the idea that psychopaths are people who cannot generate emotion and that's why they do all these terrible things.
Even though psychopaths are often portrayed as cold-blooded, almost alien predators, we have been showing that their emotional deficits may not actually be the primary driver of these bad choices.
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