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  • Open Access

Recidivant criminal behaviour and executive dysfunction

  • 1 and
  • 2
Annals of General Psychiatry20087 (Suppl 1) :S170

  • Published:


  • Public Health
  • Executive Functioning
  • Criminal Behaviour
  • Male Control
  • Global Score


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.

Authors’ Affiliations

Psychology and Education Sciences Faculty- University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Health Sciences Superior Institute- North, Gandra, Portugal


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© Barbosa and Luis; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.