Psychological Medicine

Invited Review

Psychopathy, attention and emotion

R. J. R. Blaira1 c1 and D. G. V. Mitchella2

a1 Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

a2 Department of Psychiatry and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada


Psychopathy is a developmental disorder marked by emotional hypo-responsiveness and an increased risk for antisocial behavior. Influential attention-based accounts of psychopathy have long been made; however, these accounts have made relatively little reference to general models of attention in healthy individuals. This review has three aims: (1) to summarize current cognitive neuroscience data on differing attentional systems; (2) to examine the functional integrity of these attentional systems in individuals with psychopathy; and (3) to consider the implications of these data for attention and emotion dysfunction accounts of psychopathy.

(Received January 02 2008)

(Revised May 12 2008)

(Accepted May 31 2008)

(Online publication August 14 2008)