The criminology of the amygdala

Matt DeLisi, Zachary R. Umphress, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


A central part of the brain's limbic system, the amygdala is crucial for emotional learning, aversive conditioning, and sponse to fear and other emotions. Although the amygdala is a vibrant area of study in the neurosciences, it is virtually ignored in criminology. Here, we review the anatomical location, connectivity, and functions of the amygdala, explore its role in James Blair and colleagues' recently advanced theory of psychopathy, explicate amygdala abnormalities in diverse populations, and explore genetics research relating to amygdala functioning. Because of its role in the regulation of fear and other emotional memory and response, the amygdala is importantly related to psychopathy; callous-unemotional traits; and the vibrant, neuroscience-based investigations of the etiology of antisocial behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1252
Number of pages12
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law


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