Executive Dysfunction in Violent and Criminal Behavior

  • Feggy Ostrosky ShejetEmail author
  • Karla Ximena Díaz Galván


Human behavior, including violent, volitional, and moral acts, are still under study due to the complexity of interaction between biological, cognitive, psychological, and environmental factors. However, damage in regions of the frontal lobe causing executive dysfunction has been consistently associated with difficulties in the regulation of behavior, increasing the probability for committing a violent act. Violence can be conceived as several behaviors (including verbal and psychological violence) in a wide range that goes from anger to homicide. There are also cognitive and affective factors that have been associated with the most serious manifestations of violence. The cognitive factors include low performance in neuropsychological task associated with hot executive functions (inhibition, emotional regulation, risk-benefit processing, and decision-making) related to orbito-frontal cortex functioning and less frequent problems with cold executive functions (working memory, planning, abstraction, cognitive flexibility). Emotional and psychological factors related to violence are high hostility traits, impulsivity and lack of empathy. The combination of these factors increases the possibility of committing a violent act. In this chapter, we discuss the importance of the interaction between the cognitive and the emotional/psychological factors for violent and criminal behavior.


Criminal behavior Violent behavior Psychopathy Executive functions Neuropsychology 



This work was partially supported by PAPIIT UNAM (IN302016).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feggy Ostrosky Shejet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karla Ximena Díaz Galván
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Psicofisiología y Neuropsicología, Facultad de PsicologíaUniversidad Nacional Autonoma de MexicoMexico CityMexico

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