Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/29/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Tranel, Daniel

First Committee Member

Anderson, Steven

Second Committee Member

Kochanska, Grazyna

Third Committee Member

Markon, Kristian

Fourth Committee Member

Wessel, Jan


Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) can lead to disturbances in personality, emotional dysregulation, impairments in social conduct, and difficulties in decision-making. Many researchers have likened the conduct of individuals with vmPFC lesions to that of criminal psychopaths, labeling the effects of vmPFC damage “pseudopsychopathy” or “acquired sociopathy.” However, although psychopathy—a condition marked by a distinct mosaic of antisocial personality traits and behaviors—has been studied and characterized as a psychological and behavioral disorder by many researchers, the overlap between acquired sociopathy and psychopathy remains ambiguous. This study assessed the severity of psychopathic personality traits in neurological patients with acquired damage to the vmPFC using both informant-report and self-report measures.

On both informant-report and self-report measures, individuals with vmPFC damage showed no significant elevations across a wide range of psychopathic traits relative to demographically-matched neurologically healthy comparison participants and patients with damage outside of the vmPFC. The results showed only one trait, Fearlessness, that was significantly higher in patients with vmPFC lesions relative to the neurologically-healthy comparison group.


acquired sociopathy, frontal lobe syndromes, morality, neuropsychology, psychopathy, ventromedial prefrontal cortex


111 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages ).


Copyright © 2019 Justin Reber

Available for download on Thursday, July 29, 2021

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