Background: Empathy can be seen as an individual factor decreasing the probability of violent, criminal behavior, whereas a lack of empathy is seen as an increasing factor to antisocial behavior. Antisocial behavior, especially aggression and impulsive behavior, is associated with dysfunctions in the prefrontal cortex. There has been a growing interest in using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) as an intervention to modulate brain regions of interest and increasing activity in damaged brain areas. This paper reviews the evidence about using tDCS as a potential intervention to increase empathic abilities and decrease antisocial behavior in violent offenders. Objective/Methods: This literature review is conducted to examine what is currently known about how tDCS may modulate empathic abilities and aggressive behavior. Articles in which tDCS was used to modulate empathic abilities and/or modulate violent behavior were selected. Brain areas of interest were the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex and the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex. Results/Conclusions: Literature collected so far support the application of tDCS as a potential tool to increase empathic abilities and reduce violence in forensic patients, especially when targeting the vmPFC. Further research on the vast parameter space of tCS (e.g. stimulation intensity, electrode location, polarity) is needed to consolidate tDCS as a tool in forensic science.

, , , ,,
Aggression and Violent Behavior
Department of Psychology

Sergiou, C.S, Santarnecchi, E., Franken, I.H.A, & van Dongen, J.D.M. (2020). The effectiveness of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation as an intervention to improve empathic abilities and reduce violent behavior: A Literature Review. Aggression and Violent Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2020.101463