Deficient response modulation and emotion processing in low-anxious Caucasian psychopathic offenders: Results from a lexical decision task.
ABSTRACT The clinical and research literatures on psychopathy have identified an emotion paradox: Psychopaths display normal appraisal but impaired use of emotion cues. Using R. D. Hare's (1991) Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and the G. S. Welsh Anxiety Scale (1956), the authors identified low-anxious psychopaths and controls and examined predictions concerning their performance on a lexical-decision task. Results supported all the predictions: (a) low-anxious psychopaths appraised emotion cues as well as controls; (b) their lexical decisions were relatively unaffected by emotion cues; (c) their lexical decisions were relatively unaffected by affectively neutral word-frequency cues; and (d) their performance deficits were specific to conditions involving right-handed responses. The authors propose that deficient response modulation may underlie both the emotional and cognitive deficits associated with low-anxious psychopaths.
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ABSTRACT: This study presents the first neuroimaging investigation of female psychopathy in an incarcerated population. Prior studies have found that male psychopathy is associated with reduced limbic and paralimbic activation when processing emotional stimuli and making moral judgments. The goal of this study was to investigate whether these findings extend to female psychopathy. During fMRI scanning, 157 incarcerated and 46 non-incarcerated female participants viewed unpleasant pictures, half which depicted moral transgressions, and neutral pictures. Participants rated each picture on moral transgression severity. Psychopathy was assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in all incarcerated participants. Non-incarcerated participants were included as a control group to derive brain regions of interest associated with viewing unpleasant vs. neutral pictures (emotion contrast), and unpleasant pictures depicting moral transgressions vs. unpleasant pictures without moral transgressions (moral contrast). Regression analyses in the incarcerated group examined the association between PCL-R scores and brain activation in the emotion and moral contrasts. Results of the emotion contrast revealed a negative correlation between PCL-R scores and activation in the right amygdala and rostral anterior cingulate. Results of the moral contrast revealed a negative correlation between PCL-R scores and activation in the right temporo-parietal junction. These results indicate that female psychopathy, like male psychopathy, is characterized by reduced limbic activation during emotion processing. In contrast, reduced temporo-parietal activation to moral transgressions has been less observed in male psychopathy. These results extend prior findings in male psychopathy to female psychopathy, and reveal aberrant neural responses to morally-salient stimuli that may be unique to female psychopathy.Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 09/2014; 8:741. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00741 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Violent offending has often been associated with a lack of empathy, but experimental investigations are rare. The present study aimed at clarifying whether violent offenders show a general empathy deficit or specific deficits regarding the separate subcomponents. To this end, we assessed three core components of empathy (emotion recognition, perspective taking, affective responsiveness) as well as skin conductance response (SCR) in a sample of 30 male violent offenders and 30 healthy male controls. Data analysis revealed reduced accuracy in violent offenders compared to healthy controls only in emotion recognition, and that a high number of violent assaults was associated with decreased accuracy in perspective taking for angry scenes. SCR data showed reduced physiological responses in the offender group specifically for fear and disgust stimuli during emotion recognition and perspective taking. In addition, higher psychopathy scores in the violent offender group were associated with reduced accuracy in affective responsiveness. This is the first study to show that mainly emotion recognition is deficient in violent offenders whereas the other components of empathy are rather unaffected. This divergent impact of violent offending on the subcomponents of empathy suggests that all three empathy components can be targeted by therapeutic interventions separately.Psychiatry Research 09/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2013.08.027 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This study investigated the specific emotional lexicons in narratives created by persons diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) to test the hypothesis that individuals with ASPD exhibit deficiencies in emotional language. Study participants consisted of 60 prison inmates with ASPD, 40 prison inmates without ASPD, and 60 men without antisocial tendencies who described situations involving love, hate and anxiety depicted by photographs. The lexical choices made in the narratives were analyzed, and a comparison of the three groups revealed differences between the emotional narratives of inmates with ASPD, inmates without ASPD, and the control group. Although the narratives of the individuals with ASPD included more words describing emotions and higher levels of emotional intensity, the valence of these words was inappropriate. The linguistic characteristics of these narratives were associated with high levels of psychopathy and low emotional reactivity.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 01/2013; 42(6). DOI:10.1007/s10936-012-9237-z · 0.59 Impact Factor