Article

Neural correlates of social cooperation and non-cooperation as a function of psychopathy

Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 9.47). 07/2007; 61(11):1260-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.07.021
Source: PubMed

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.

Full-text

Available from: Giuseppe Pagnoni, Oct 16, 2014
3 Followers
 · 
190 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent work suggests that a generalized error monitoring circuit, which shows heightened activation when one commits an error in goal-directed behavior, may exhibit synonymous activity when one watches another person commit a similar goal-directed error. In the present study, fMRI was utilized to compare and contrast those regions that show sensitivity to the performance, and to the observation, of committed errors. Participants performed a speeded go/no-go task and also observed a video of another person performing the same task. Dorsal anterior cingulate, orbitofrontal cortex, and supplementary motor regions were commonly activated to both performed and observed errors, providing evidence for common neural circuitry underlying the processing of one's own and another's mistakes. In addition, several regions, including inferior parietal cortex and anterorostral and ventral cinguli, did not show activation during performed errors, but were instead uniquely activated by the observation of another's mistakes. The unique nature of these 'observer-related' activations suggests that these regions, while of potential import towards recognition of another's errors, are not core to circuitry underlying error monitoring. Rather, we suggest that these regions may represent components of a distributed network important for the representation and interpretation of complex social actions.
    NeuroImage 09/2008; 42(1):450-9. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.067 · 6.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several functionally connected networks of activity have now been identified in the resting human brain that may be amplified or attenuated by specific goal-directed tasks. However, it is not known whether there exists a particular network that becomes more active when a person is engaged in a social interaction. fMRI was used to measure brain activity in subjects as they completed a social interactive task and a non-social control task sharing many of the same features. Comparison across the two tasks revealed a network of functionally connected areas that was consistently more active in the social task. This network included default mode network areas, raising the possibility that activity previously observed in default mode regions at rest is related to social cognition. Within this network, information appears to flow from regions involved in salience detection (e.g. anterior insula) to regions involved in mentalizing (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex) to regions involved in executive control (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). In a second experiment, subjects played the same social interactive task with alleged members of both an experimentally induced in-group and out-group. The default mode network was again active during the task, and several noteworthy differences distinguished interactions with in-group and out-group partners, providing a potential neural substrate for the human tendency to more readily identify with in-group members and more readily distrust, fear and discriminate against out-group members.
    NeuroImage 08/2008; 41(4):1447-61. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.03.044 · 6.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Maladaptive social behavior is one of the defining characteristics of psychopathic personality disorder. Nevertheless, maladaptive social behavior has only rarely been observed among psychopaths in experimentally controlled situations. The authors assessed the behavior of criminal psychopaths from high-security psychiatric hospitals in a computer simulation of a social dilemma situation. The psychopaths showed a markedly higher proneness to competitive (i.e., noncooperative) behavior than did healthy adults from the general population. The odds ratio between defection and being a psychopath was estimated at 7.86 in the sample. The probability to choose selfish instead of cooperative behavior was significantly linked to the following subscales of the Psychopathy Personality Inventory-Revised (S. O. Lilienfeld & M. R. Widows, 2005): rebellious nonconformity, Machiavellian egocentricity, and the total score. On average, the psychopathic participants accumulated higher gain and more strongly exploited their counterpart than did the healthy participants.
    Journal of Abnormal Psychology 05/2008; 117(2):406-13. DOI:10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.406 · 4.86 Impact Factor