White matter microstructural abnormalities in the frontal lobe of adults with antisocial personality disorder

Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.
Cortex (Impact Factor: 5.13). 07/2011; 48(2):216-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2011.06.005
Source: PubMed


Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy involve significant interpersonal and behavioural impairments. However, little is known about their underlying neurobiology and in particular, abnormalities in white matter (WM) microstructure. A preliminary diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) study of adult psychopaths employing tractography revealed abnormalities in the right uncinate fasciculus (UF) (Craig et al., 2009), indicating fronto-limbic disconnectivity. However, it is not clear whether WM abnormalities are restricted to this tract or are or more widespread, including other tracts which are involved in connectivity with the frontal lobe. We performed whole brain voxel-based analyses on WM fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) maps acquired with DT-MRI to compare 15 adults with ASPD and healthy age, handedness and IQ-matched controls. Also, within ASPD subjects we related differences in FA and MD to measures of psychopathy. Significant WM FA reduction and MD increases were found respectively in ASPD subjects relative to controls. FA was bilaterally reduced in the genu of corpus callosum while in the right frontal lobe FA reduction was found in the UF, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), anterior corona radiata and anterior limb and genu of the internal capsule. These differences negatively correlated with measures of psychopathy. Also in the right frontal lobe, increased MD was found in the IFOF and UF, and the corpus callosum and anterior corona radiata. There was a significant positive correlation between MD and psychopathy scores. CONCLUSIONS: The present study confirms a previous report of reduced FA in the UF. Additionally, we report for the first time, FA deficits in tracts involved in interhemispheric as well as frontal lobe connectivity in conjunction with MD increases in the frontal lobe. Hence, we provide evidence of significant WM microstructural abnormalities in frontal brain regions in ASPD and psychopathy.

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Available from: Sagari Sarkar, May 23, 2014
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    • "In the largest DTI study of incarcerated criminal offenders to date, we have identified an anatomically specific neural characteristic of psychopathy: reduced microstructural integrity of the right UF. Our finding of an inverse relationship between Total PCL-R score and right UF FA across our entire inmate sample corroborates previous findings based on group comparisons with smaller samples, showing lower FA in right UF in psychopathic offenders versus non-psychopathic individuals [Craig et al., 2009; Hoppenbrouwers et al., 2013; Motzkin et al., 2011; Sundram et al., 2012]. However, the large sample and wide range of psychopathy severity in this study has afforded us the unique opportunity to examine whether this particular neurostructural characteristic relates to specific symptoms of the disorder. "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by callous lack of empathy, impulsive antisocial behavior, and criminal recidivism. Here, we performed the largest diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) study of incarcerated criminal offenders to date (N = 147) to determine whether psychopathy severity is linked to the microstructural integrity of major white matter tracts in the brain. Consistent with the results of previous studies in smaller samples, we found that psychopathy was associated with reduced fractional anisotropy in the right uncinate fasciculus (UF; the major white matter tract connecting ventral frontal and anterior temporal cortices). We found no such association in the left UF or in adjacent frontal or temporal white matter tracts. Moreover, the right UF finding was specifically related to the interpersonal features of psychopathy (glib superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulativeness), rather than the affective, antisocial, or lifestyle features. These results indicate a neural marker for this key dimension of psychopathic symptomatology. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 07/2015; DOI:10.1002/hbm.22911 · 5.97 Impact Factor
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    • "White matter abnormalities have consistently been found in adults with psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder (Sundram et al., 2012). In particular, antisocial adults, when compared with healthy controls, exhibit reduced FA in the uncinate fasciculus (UF), which may indicate abnormally low structural connectivity of the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, in forensic inpatients (Craig et al., 2009; Sundram et al., 2012) and incarcerated psychopaths (Motzkin et al., 2011; Hoppenbrouwers et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Associations between white matter pathway abnormalities and antisocial personality disorder in adults are well replicated, and there is some evidence for an association of white matter abnormalities with conduct disorder (CD) in adolescents. In this study, white matter maturation using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was examined in 110 children aged 10.0±0.8 years selected to vary widely in their numbers of CD symptoms. The results replicated age-related increases in fractional anisotropy (FA) found in previous studies. There was not a significant association between the number of CD symptoms and FA, but CD symptoms were found to be significantly associated with greater axial and radial diffusivity in a broad range of white matter tracts, particularly in girls. In complementary analyses, there were similar significant differences in axial and radial diffusivity between children who met diagnostic criteria for CD and healthy children with no symptoms of CD, particularly in girls. Brain structural abnormalities may contribute to the emergence of CD in childhood, perhaps playing a greater role in girls. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.07.009 · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    • "With n = 93, α = .005 (to account for multiple comparisons) and β = .8, the minimum effect size detectable is ρ = .72. This is considerably smaller than the effects in the above-cited studies comparing pathological and normal populations, which showed effect sizes between 1.25 and 2.5 [9], [11], [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies in both pathological and healthy samples have suggested altered functional connectivity between orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala as a possible cause of anger and aggression. In patient populations presenting with pathological aggression, there is also evidence for changes in structural connectivity between OFC and amygdala. In healthy samples, however, the relationship between white matter integrity and aggression has not been studied to date. Here, we investigated the relationship between trait aggressiveness and structural OFC-amygdala connectivity in a large sample (n = 93) of healthy young men. Using diffusion tensor imaging, we measured the distribution of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity along the uncinate fascicle bilaterally. We found no differences in either measure between participants high and low in physical aggressiveness, or between those high and low in trait anger. Our results therefore argue against a direct relationship between structural OFC-amygdala connectivity and normal-range trait aggressiveness.
    PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e101105. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0101105 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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