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Recidivant criminal behaviour and executive dysfunction


To experimentally test the hypothesis according to which recidivist subjects in non-violent criminal behaviours display an executive deficit, having alterations on prefrontal functioning as neurophysiological substrate.

Materials and methods

We applied the Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS) - a battery of assessment of the executive dysfunctions - to an experimental group of 30 male inmates who were recidivist in crimes against property (age= 39,3; s.d..= 9,98), and to a group of 30 male controls (age=32,7; s.d.=11,8), all Caucasian.


Compared to controls, recidivist inmates performed worse in most of the subscales and showed a lower global score, suggesting defective executive functioning.


Avoiding the idea of a frontal “criminogenesis”, and despite the fact that both samples are not very large, the authors seek to present a possible interpretation for certain forms of persistent criminal behaviour, particularly when criminals are resistant to penal measures, in the frame of a defective control over conduct and its consequences.


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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Barbosa, F., Luis, M. Recidivant criminal behaviour and executive dysfunction. Ann Gen Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S170 (2008).

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