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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Psychopathy and semantic processing Jutai, Jeffrey William


The performance of psychopathic (n=16) and nonpsychopathic (n=ll) right-handed male criminals was compared on tasks requiring the verbal semantic processing of four-letter concrete nouns presented tachistoscopically to either the left or the right visual half-field. Subjects processed stimuli at a superficial level (Simple Recognition), and at deeper levels (Lower-order and Higher-order Categorization conditions). "Yes/No" responses were made manually by triggering microswitches. Responding hand (left or right) was counterbalanced across conditions. Dependent measures were reaction time (RT) and error rate (ER), and were analysed separately as a function of group, processing level, responding hand, and visual half-field of presentation. The groups did not differ with respect to the pattern of RT results. Statistically significant group differences did emerge in the ER results however, with psychopaths making fewer errors than nonpsychopaths in the categorization conditions. These findings are discussed in the context of current neuropsychological models of verbal semantic function and psychopathy.

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