Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing how (...) the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed. (shrink)
Psychopaths continue to be demonised by the media and estimates suggest that a disturbing percentage of the population has psychopathic tendencies. This timely and controversial new book summarises what we already know about psychopathy and antisocial behavior and puts forward a new case for its cause - with far-reaching implications. Presents the scientific facts of psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Addresses key questions, such as: What is psychopathy? Are there psychopaths amongst us? What is wrong with psychopaths? Is psychopathy due to (...) nature or nurture? And can we treat psychopaths? Reveals the authors' ground-breaking research into whether an underlying abnormality in brain development leaves psychopaths with an inability to feel emotion or fear. The resulting theory could lead to early diagnosis and revolutionize the way society, the media and the state both views and contends with the psychopaths in our midst. (shrink)
Empathy is a lay term that is becoming increasingly viewed as a unitary function within the field of cognitive neuroscience. In this paper, a selective review of the empathy literature is provided. It is argued from this literature that empathy is not a unitary system but rather a loose collection of partially dissociable neurocognitive systems. In particular, three main divisions can be made: cognitive empathy , motor empathy, and emotional empathy. The two main psychiatric disorders associated with empathic dysfunction are (...) considered: autism and psychopathy. It is argued that individuals with autism show difficulties with cognitive and motor empathy but less clear difficulties with respect to emotional empathy. In contrast, individuals with psychopathy show clear difficulties with a specific form of emotional empathy but no indications of impairment with cognitive and motor empathy. (shrink)
This study investigated the performance of boys with psychopathic tendencies and comparison boys, aged 9 to 17 years, on two tasks believed to be sensitive to amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex func- tioning. Fifty-one boys were divided into two groups according to the Psychopathy Screening Device (PSD, P. J. Frick & R. D. Hare, in press) and presented with two tasks. The tasks were the gambling task (A. Bechara, A. R. Damasio, H. Damasio, & S. W. Anderson, 1994) and the Intradimensional/ (...) Extradimensional (ID/ED) shift task (R. Dias, T. W. Robbins, & A. C. Roberts, 1996). The boys with psychopathic tendencies showed impaired performance on the gambling task. However, there were no group differences on the ID/ED task either for response reversal or extradimensional set shifting. The implications of these results for models of psychopathy are discussed. (shrink)
Psychopathy is a developmental disorder associated with specific forms of emotional dysfunction and an increased risk for both frustration-based reactive aggression and goal-directed instrumental antisocial behavior. While the full behavioral manifestation of the disorder is under considerable social influence, the basis of this disorder appears to be genetic. At the neural level, individuals with psychopathy show atypical responding within the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Moreover, the roles of the amygdala in stimulus-reinforcement learning and responding to emotional expressions and vmPFC (...) in the representation of reinforcement expectancies are compromised. The implications of these functional impairments for responsibility are discussed. (shrink)
This study investigates the performance of psychopathic individuals on tasks believed to be sensitive to dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) functioning. Psychopathic and non-psychopathic individuals, as defined by the Hare psychopathy checklist revised (PCL-R) [Hare, The Hare psychopathy checklist revised, Toronto, Ontario: Multi-Health Systems, 1991] completed a gambling task [Cognition 50 (1994) 7] and the intradimensional/extradimensional (ID/ED) shift task [Nature 380 (1996) 69]. On the gambling task, psychopathic participants showed a global tendency to choose disadvantageously. Specifically, they showed an (...) impaired ability to show learning over the course of the task. On the ID/ED task, the performance of psychopathic individuals was not significantly different from incarcerated controls on attentional set-shifting, but significant impairments were found on response reversal. These results are interpreted with reference to an OFC and amygdala dysfunction explanation of psychopathy. (shrink)
This study investigates the ability of individuals with psychopathy to perform passive avoidance learning and whether this ability is modulated by level of reinforcement/punishment. Nineteen psychopathic and 21 comparison individuals, as defined by the Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised (Hare, 1991), were given a passive avoidance task with a graded reinforcement schedule. Response to each rewarding number gained a point reward specific to that number (i.e., 1, 700, 1400 or 2000 points). Response to each punishing number lost a point punishment specific (...) to that number (i.e., the loss of 1, 700, 1400 or 2000 points). In line with predictions, individuals with psychopathy made more passive avoidance errors than the comparison individuals. In addition, while the performance of both groups was modulated by level of reward, only the performance of the comparison population was modulated by level of punishment. The results are interpreted with reference to a computational account of the emotional learning impairment in individuals with psychopathy. (shrink)
Recent interest in emotion as the basis for moral development began with work involving individuals with psychopathic tendencies, and a recent paper with this population has allowed fresh insights (Glenn, Iyer, Graham, Koleva, & Haidt, 2009). Two main conclusions suggested by this paper are: (i) that systems involved in different forms of morality can be differentiated; and (ii) that systems involved in justice reasoning likely include amygdala and/or ventromedial prefrontal cortex, even if the specifics of their functional contribution to justice (...) development remain unidentified. (shrink)
Abstract The effect of inducing negative, positive or neutral affect on the recall of moral and conventional transgressions and positive moral and conventional acts was examined. It was found that inducing negative affect was associated with higher recall of moral transgressions while inducing positive affect was associated with higher recall of positive moral acts. Affect induction condition did not have a significant effect on the recall of the conventional transgressions or positive acts. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition (...) Mechanism model of moral development (Blair, 1995) and by reference to a new, hypothesised system, the Smiling Reward Response. (shrink)
Decety (2011) considers the cognitive neuroscience of empathy and, in particular, his three-component model of empathic responding. His position is highly influential with its emotional awareness/understanding and emotional regulation components representing clear extensions of previous theorizing on empathy. In this brief commentary, I will critically consider the third of his components: affective arousal. In particular, I will consider the implications of the literature to the proposed computations, based on perception—action coupling, that underlie this component of his model. I will suggest (...) that perception—action coupling does not underlie affective arousal but rather that this is mediated by far more simple mechanisms of emotional arousal based on conditioning. (shrink)
I propose to examine the possible relevance of phenomenological method to the consideration of another approach to philosophy which is usually thought of as the descendant of a tradition of thought quite alien to it. This second approach I shall call “the anti-linguistic method.” The name constitutes a terminological safeguard against the dangerous step of ascribing a definite methodological view to the Wittgenstein of the Investigations, although the anti-linguistic method seems to me to be close to what Wittgenstein’s method would (...) have been, had he allowed himself to talk of a method instead of employing the elaborate philosophical conceit of “therapy.” By the method of phenomenology I understand Husserl’s method of “reduction,” which I shall summarize later. Initially I must characterize the method which I shall take to be the distinctive mark of anti-linguistic philosophy. (shrink)
We make three suggestions with regard to Mealey's work. First, her lack of a cognitive analysis of the sociopath results in underspecified mappings between sociobiology and behavior. Second, the developmental literature indicates that Mealey's implicit assumption, that moral socialisation is achieved through punishment, is invalid. Third, we advance the use of causal modelling to map the developmental relationships between biology, cognition, and behaviour.
We make two suggestions with regard to Depue & Collins's target article. First, regarding the functioning of MOC13, we provide data indicating that, contrary to D&C's apparent position, this structure is not necessary for instrumental conditioning. Second, we suggest that D&C's approach would be advanced by reference to formal computational theory, in particular the work of Grossberg. We suggest that an integration of Grossberg 's and D&C's models can provide a more complete account of extraversion.
Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy is one of the last great works of English prose to have remained unedited. The present volume inaugurates an authoritative edition of the work, which is being prepared by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be followed by two further volumes of text with textual apparatus, and two volumes of commentary. Burton concentrated a lifetime of inquiry into the Anatomy, describing and analysing melancholy and its causes - devoting especial attention to (...) love and religion - and recording possible cures. Primarily a scholarly study of morbid psychology, it is also a compendium of curious facts and anecdotes, and combines seriousness of purpose with a marked satirical vein. First published in 1621, it was a great success: four more editions were published in Burton's lifetime, in each of which new material was added, and a sixth, containing his final revisions, was published in in 1651, eleven years after his death. The textual complexity and Burton's extraordinary range of reference have hitherto deterred editors: this is the first scholarly edition to appear. The text is based on a complete collation of all six authoritative editions. (shrink)
The current study examined whether Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits, a core component of psychopathy, modulate neural responses of participants engaged in a social exchange game. In this task, participants were offered an allocation of money and then given the chance to punish the offerer. Twenty youth participated and responses to both offers and the participant’s punishment (or not) of these offers were examined. Increasingly unfair offers were associated with increased dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activity but this responsiveness was not modulated (...) by CU traits. Increasing punishment of unfair offers was associated with increased dACC and anterior insula activity and this activity was modulated by CU traits. Higher CU trait participants showed a weaker association between activity and punishment level. These data suggest that CU traits are associated with appropriate expectations of other individual’s normative behavior but weaker representations of such information when guiding behavior of the self. (shrink)
Youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits showed reduced amygdala responses to fearful expressions under low attentional load but no indications of increased recruitment of regions implicated in top- down attentional control. These findings suggest that the emotional deficit observed in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits is primary and not secondary to increased top- down attention to nonemotional stimulus features.
In this paper it is proposed that important components of moral development and moral judgment rely on two forms of emotional learning: stimulus-reinforcement and response-outcome learning. Data in support of this position will be primarily drawn from work with individuals with the developmental condition of psychopathy as well as fMRI studies with healthy individuals. Individuals with psychopathy show impairment on moral judgment tasks and a pronounced increased risk for instrumental antisocial behavior. It will be argued that these impairments are developmental (...) consequences of impaired stimulus-aversive conditioning on the basis of distress cue reinforcers and response-outcome learning in individuals with this disorder. (shrink)