A new study suggests that people who have persistent antisocial behavior throughout their lives have a different brain structure than those who only show this behavior pattern during adolescence.
The research, carried out by a team of scientists from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, analyzed 672 participants. The researchers looked at those who exhibited antisocial behavior when interacting with people who showed no antisocial traits. The scientific article was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on February 17th.
Participants were categorized into groups according to the report of parents, caregivers and teachers: 80 people showed persistent antisocial behavior throughout life, 151 showed this same behavior but during adolescence and 441 never did.
Antisocials have a smaller cortex
Using magnetic resonances, the team measured and compared the average thickness and surface area of the participants’ cortex to characterize the gray matter of each group. The investigation also focused on the analysis of 360 other different regions of the cortex.
According to Futurism, the result indicated that, compared to the other groups, people with persistent antisocial behavior had a smaller surface area and a lower cortical thickness.
Additionally, they also had a thinner cortex in 11 regions and a smaller brain surface area in 282 of the 360 regions analyzed.
Their brain structure explains the lack of social skills
According to Christina Carlisi, author of this work, this discovery “supports the idea that, for the small proportion of individuals with persistent antisocial behavior throughout life, there may be differences in brain structure that hinder the development of certain social skills”.
Adolescents who adopt this type of behavior do not show any differences in their brain structure. “Most people are like that only in their teens.”
Still, scientists want to deepen research on long-term antisocial behavior to better understand this pattern.