Previous work has inconsistently reported difficulties with response reversal/extinction in children with psychopathic tendencies.
We tested the hypothesis that the degree of impairment seen in children with psychopathic tendencies is a function of the salience of contingency change. We investigated the performance of children with psychopathic tendencies on a novel probabilistic response reversal task involving four conditions with gradated reward-punishment contingencies (100-0, 90-10, 80-20 and 70-30; i.e., for the 100-0 contingency, responding to one object is always rewarded while responding to the other is always punished).
In line with predictions, the impairment seen in the children with psychopathic tendencies was an inverse function of the salience of the contingency change.
We suggest that this data is consistent with suggestions of subtle orbital frontal cortex impairment in children with psychopathic tendencies.
"In OFC, Finger et al. (2011) found reduced fMRI responses in a network of regions including OFC during a reinforcement learning task in youths with CP and elevated psychopathic traits; while Marsh et al. (2011) found reduced OFC-amygdala connectivity in a similar sample during a moral judgment task. Behavioural work has also shown subtle impairments on OFC-dependent tasks such as reversal learning (e.g., Budhani and Blair 2005). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic, behavioural and functional neuroimaging studies have revealed that different vulnerabilities characterise children with conduct problems and high levels of callous-unemotional traits (CP/HCU) compared with children with conduct problems and low callous-unemotional traits (CP/LCU). We used voxel-based morphometry to study grey matter volume (GMV) in 89 male participants (aged 10-16), 60 of whom exhibited CP. The CP group was subdivided into CP/HCU (n = 29) and CP/LCU (n = 31). Whole-brain and regional GMV were compared across groups (CP vs. typically developing (TD) controls (n = 29); and CP/HCU vs. CP/LCU vs. TD). Whole-brain analyses showed reduced GMV in left middle frontal gyrus in the CP/HCU group compared with TD controls. Region-of-interest analyses showed reduced volume in bilateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in the CP group as a whole compared with TD controls. Reduced volume in left OFC was found to be driven by the CP/HCU group only, with significant reductions relative to both TD controls and the CP/LCU group, and no difference between these latter two groups. Within the CP group left OFC volume was significantly predicted by CU traits, but not conduct disorder symptoms. Reduced right anterior cingulate cortex volume was also found in CP/HCU compared with TD controls. Our results support previous findings indicating that GMV differences in brain regions central to decision-making and empathy are implicated in CP. However, they extend these data to suggest that some of these differences might specifically characterise the subgroup with CP/HCU, with GMV reduction in left OFC differentiating children with CP/HCU from those with CP/LCU.
"Previous research has shown that impaired behavioral adaptation in various psychiatric populations is associated with general reward processing deficits (Budhani & Blair, 2005; Finger et al., 2008; Franken, van Strien, Franzek, & van de Wetering, 2007, Franken, van Strien, Nijs, & Muris, 2008; Gatzke-Kopp et al., 2009). For example, a number of studies have shown that psychopathic individuals persevere in responding to the non-rewarding stimulus while performing a reward-related reversal learning task, which requires response shifting as a consequence of changing reinforcement contingencies (Blair, 2007; Budhani & Blair, 2005; Budhani, Richell, & Blair, 2006; Finger et al., 2008; Newman, Patterson, & Kosson, 1987; Roussy & Toupin, 2000). On the basis of these previous findings, it has been suggested that psychopathic individuals are less able to use reward-related information appropriately irrespective of the provision of an adequate feedback signal (e.g., Blair, 2007; Finger et al., 2008), which implies that reward processing is compromised in these individuals. "
"The UF is a bidirectional, long-range tract of white matter that connects the OFC and the anterior temporal lobes . The abnormal integrity of the UF might get involved in the deficiencies of reversal learning abilities in CD subjects , leading to displaying behaviors with negative consequences for both themselves and others, repeatedly . To date, research on CD has focused mainly on male subjects, and few studies have involved female subjects. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conduct disorder (CD) is one of the most common behavior disorders in adolescents, such as impulsivity, aggression, and running from school. Males are more likely to develop CD than females, and two previous diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have demonstrated abnormal microstructural integrity in the uncinate fasciculus (UF) in boys with CD compared to a healthy control group. However, little is known about changes in the UF in females with CD. In this study, the UF was illustrated by tractography; then, the fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity, mean diffusion, radial diffusivity (RD), and the length and number of the UF fiber bundles were compared between male and female patients with CD and between female patients with CD and female healthy controls, as well as between males with CD and healthy males. We found that males with CD showed significantly higher FA of the bilateral UF and significantly lower RD of the left UF when comparing with females with CD. Meanwhile, significantly higher FA and lower RD of the bilateral UF were also found in boys with CD relative to the male healthy controls. Our results replicated previous reports that the microstructural integrity of the UF was abnormal in boys with CD. Additionally, our results demonstrated significant gender effects on the UF of patients with CD, which may indicate why boys have higher rates of conduct problems than girls.
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