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.
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)
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)