Twilight Plot and Colorado Movie Shooter: What Causes Sociopathy?

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The Amygdala and the Pre-frontal Cortex

Sociopaths may have a malfunctioning amygdala. Image by aaronbflickr.

In 2010, the Annual Review of Neuroscience published a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Saltzman and Fusi pinpointing the areas of the brain responsible for the  “processes such as valuation, rule-based actions, emotional processes, attention, goal-directed behavior, and working memory—processes that are likely to set some of the variables that constitute a subject’s mental state.”

By studying monkeys with brain lesions, the authors concluded that both emotional and cognitive processes, which use different parts of the brain, intertwine to effect behavior.

The process of understanding the complex encoding properties of the amygdala, the PFC” ,“and related brain structures, as well as understanding their functional interactions, is in its infancy.”

Twilight Shooting Plot: Sociopaths and Mass Murder

When we hear that James Holmes is in a mental hospital, or that the man planning a shooting during the premiere of Breaking Dawn Part 2 in a movie theatre in Missouri was “off his medication” we are not surprised.  Yet, despite ongoing research, we still have much to learn about what is actually happening inside the heads of sociopaths who want to cause harm to others.

Sources

Associates in Counseling and Child Guidance. Anti-Social Personality Disorder DSM IV 301.70. Accessed November 18, 2012.

Deam, J.  Los Angles Times: James Holmes, Accused in Colorado Movie Massacre, Hospitalized. (2012). Accessed November 18, 2012.

Mayo Clinic. Antisocial Personality Disorder. (2012). Accessed November 18, 2012.

MSN News. Man who plotted ‘Twilight’ Attack Detained in 2009(2012). Accessed November 18, 2012.

Jonson, R. The Psychopath Test. (2011). Riverhead Books, New York.

Hare, R. Without a Conscience. (2011). Accessed November 18, 2012.

Saltzman C.D. and Fusi, S. Emotion, Cognition, and Mental State Representation in Amygdala and Prefrontal Cortex(2010). Accessed November 18, 2012.

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