Neural correlates of social cooperation and non-cooperation as a function of psychopathy
ABSTRACT Psychopathy is a disorder involving a failure to experience many emotions that are necessary for appropriate social behavior. In this study, we probed the behavioral, emotional, and neural correlates of psychopathic traits within the context of a dyadic social interaction.
Thirty subjects were imaged with functional magnetic resonance imaging while playing an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game with human confederates who were outside the scanner. Subjects also completed two self-report psychopathy questionnaires.
Subjects scoring higher on psychopathy, particularly males, defected more often and were less likely to continue cooperating after establishing mutual cooperation with a partner. Further, they experienced more outcomes in which their cooperation was not reciprocated (cooperate-defect outcome). After such outcomes, subjects scoring high in psychopathy showed less amygdala activation, suggesting weaker aversive conditioning to those outcomes. Compared with low-psychopathy subjects, subjects higher in psychopathy also showed weaker activation within orbitofrontal cortex when choosing to cooperate and showed weaker activation within dorsolateral prefrontal and rostral anterior cingulate cortex when choosing to defect.
These findings suggest that whereas subjects scoring low on psychopathy have emotional biases toward cooperation that can only be overcome with effortful cognitive control, subjects scoring high on psychopathy have an opposing bias toward defection that likewise can only be overcome with cognitive effort.
SourceAvailable from: Jennifer S Mascaro[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Although kindness-based contemplative practices are increasingly employed by clinicians and cognitive researchers to enhance prosocial emotions, social cognitive skills, and well-being, and as a tool to understand the basic workings of the social mind, we lack a coherent theoretical model with which to test the mechanisms by which kindness-based meditation may alter the brain and body. Here, we link contemplative accounts of compassion and loving-kindness practices with research from social cognitive neuroscience and social psychology to generate predictions about how diverse practices may alter brain structure and function and related aspects of social cognition. Contingent on the nuances of the practice, kindness-based meditation may enhance the neural systems related to faster and more basic perceptual or motor simulation processes, simulation of another's affective body state, slower and higher-level perspective-taking, modulatory processes such as emotion regulation and self/other discrimination, and combinations thereof.This theoretical model will be discussed alongside best practices for testing such a model and potential implications and applications of future work.Frontiers in Psychology 03/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00109 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Much is known about the affective deficits that characterise psychopathic traits. However, relatively little research has investigated psychopathy using paradigms that model social dynamics in interpersonal contexts. This study examined the association between psychopathic traits and social cooperation in an iterated prisoner's dilemma (IPD) paradigm, and tested the impact of affective cues from a co-player on participant cooperation. A sample of male university students participated in a block of standard IPD trials (game 1) followed by a block comprising a novel condition in which participants were provided with feedback on the emotional state of a bogus co-player throughout game-play (game 2). Whereas participants with low levels of psychopathic traits exhibited increased social cooperation in the context of affective feedback, poor cooperation was uniquely predicted by high levels of psychopathic traits. Findings are discussed in relation to recent accounts of psychopathy that emphasise attention-based mechanisms and empathic dysfunction.Psychiatry Psychology and Law 10/2014; 21(5):767-778. DOI:10.1080/13218719.2014.893550 · 0.35 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Some aspects of executive function are thought to be dysfunctional in psychopathic individuals. We administered a small battery of neuropsychological tests (spatial alternation task, object alternation task, and Porteus Maze) to two samples of college students and obtained a measure of psychopathy via a self-report questionnaire. Psychopathic traits were related to the tests of object alternation and Porteus Maze but not to the spatial alternation task. Our results support the hypothesis of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) dysfunction with sparing of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in psychopathy and provide a downward extension of this theory to sub-clinical levels of psychopathy.Personality and Individual Differences 10/2013; 55(7):801-804. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2013.06.016 · 1.86 Impact Factor