||Background. A growing body of neuropsychological and neurobiological research shows a relationship between functioning
of the prefrontal cortex and criminal and violent behaviour. The prefrontal cortex is crucial for executive functions
such as inhibition, attention, working memory, set-shifting and planning. A deficit in these functions – a
prefrontal deficit – may result in antisocial, impulsive or even aggressive behaviour. While several meta-analyses
show large effect sizes for the relationship between a prefrontal deficit, executive dysfunction and criminality, there
are few studies investigating differences in executive functions between violent and non-violent offenders.
Considering the relevance of identifying risk factors for violent offending, the current study explores whether a distinction
between violent and non-violent offenders can be made using an extensive neuropsychological test battery.
Method. Male remand prisoners (N = 130) in Penitentiary Institution Amsterdam Over-Amstel were administered an
extensive neuropsychological test battery (Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery; CANTAB) measuring
response inhibition, planning, attention, set-shifting, working memory and impulsivity/reward sensitivity.
Results. Violent offenders performed significantly worse on the stop-signal task (partial correlation r = 0.205, p = 0.024),
a task measuring response inhibition. No further differences were found between violent and non-violent offenders.
Explorative analyses revealed a significant relationship between recidivism and planning (partial correlation
r =?0.209, p = 0.016).
Conclusion. Violent offenders show worse response inhibition compared to non-violent offenders, suggesting a more
pronounced prefrontal deficit in violent offenders than in non-violent offenders.