Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter, King Joffrey. Besides being fictional characters, what do all of these people have in common? They are all Psychopaths. There has always been a certain air of mystery surrounding many forms of Mental illness. People with psychopathic tendencies have often been referred to as "evil" with a severe lack of empathy. However, a recent scientific study has sought to shed more light of the workings of the psychopath's brain. The human brain is one of nature's most complex and mysterious designs and is capable of just about anything.

Looking deeper into the taboo realm of mental illness has become a much more common practice in the last decade.

A Harvard Study

As explained in the scientific journal Neuron, a research team at Harvard University has set out to uncover the underlying causes of psychopathic tendencies. It seems that they have discovered that the neurological wiring in a psychopath's brain is very different from others. It was previously thought the absence of empathy was what caused irrational behaviors in psychopaths. However, researchers have found that this is not the case. It is the appeal of near instant reward that motivates psychopaths to act out impulsively and often recklessly. Senior author and associate professor of psychology Josh Buckholtz oversaw the team's research.

Equipped with a mobile brain scanner, the team went to 50 incarcerated inmates who had all shown signs of psychopathic tendencies. The prisoners where then subjected to a delayed gratification test. In this test, the inmates had to choose whether to take money from a pile sooner or wait to take more money hours later. Individuals who displayed impulsive, psychopathic tendencies required gratification sooner than others.

The results

During the test, the MRI measured brained activity in two regions of the brain. One region is responsible for mental time travel, which allows the brain to contemplate the future and the consequences of our actions in the present. The other region is responsible for immediate decision making. The study concluded that the connection between these two sections in the brain was far weaker in inmates with psychopathic tendencies.

This brain scan was so accurate that it could even predict how many times the psychopath in question had committed a crime.

Psychopathy does not necessarily make a person "evil." Common characteristics among psychopaths include lack of empathy, issues with authority figures, an inability to become emotionally attached, narcissism, fearlessness, and the lack of conscientiousness. James Bond happens to be a psychopath and is always portrayed as the hero in his films. The results of this study are crucial in further understanding how the human brain works. What was once dismissed as being "evil" can perhaps be remedied with brain training exercises in the future.