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Responses by psychopaths to emotional words Williamson, Sherrie


Reaction time, P300 latency, and P300 amplitude were used as measures to assess psychopathic responses to emotional words. Negative, positive, and neutral words were presented to psychopaths and nonpsychopaths in a lexical decision task. Relative to nonemotional words nonpsychopaths responded with faster reaction times to emotional words. This differential responding was not found in psychopaths. Additionally, emotional words increased P300 latency for nonpsychopaths and decreased it for psychopaths when the two groups were compared. It is suggested that these results lend some credence to Cleckley's (1982) belief that psychopaths suffer from semantic dementia.

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