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antisocial behaviour and brain structural differences

In developed nations, 30-40% of males are convicted of non-traffic related crimes, yet decades of research have shown that only a small fraction of the population commits a very large fraction of these crimes. A new study in The Lancet Psychiatry is the first to use large-scale longitudinal data, following 1,000 individuals from birth to midlife to test if the brains of persistent antisocial individuals differ from ordinary young people who break the law.

Journalists came to the SMC to hear more about this study and its findings, and hear the answer to questions including:

  • What is the difference between those who display lifelong antisocial behaviour and those whose antisocial behaviour is limited to adolescence?
  • How do you measure antisocial behaviour?
  • Do all juvenile offenders have similar brain structure?
  • What are the implications, if any, for criminal justice and social policy?
  • What is conduct disorder? What are the implications, if any, for clinical practice in the psychiatric diagnosis of conduct disorder?


Speakers included:

Professor Essi Viding, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University College London

Dr Christina Carlisi, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, University College London

Professor Terrie Moffitt (by phone), Professor of Social Development, King’s College London and Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology, Duke University


This briefing was accompanied with an SMC roundup of comments.

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