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Slow cortical brain potentials in criminal psychopaths Forth, Adelle Elizabeth


Slow cortical potentials and electrodermal activity were recorded while criminal psychopaths performed a two-stimulus anticipation task with monetary reward and punishment. Twelve psychopathic and twelve nonpsychopathic male criminals received auditory stimuli signalling that monetary gain, monetary loss, or no reinforcement would occur at the end of a 6-second foreperiod. There were no electrodermal differences between groups across the reinforcement conditions. Slow EEG activity consisted of two components, identified as the early and late contingent negative variation (CNV). The late CNV did not vary as a function of group. Statistically significant group differences did emerge for the early CNV, with the early CNV of psychopaths being larger across all conditions that those of the nonpsychopaths. The latter result was consistent with the hypothesis that psychopaths have a heightened capacity to selectively attend to events that interest them.

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