Deficient Response Modulation and Emotion Processing in Low-Anxious Caucasian Psychopathic Offenders. Results From a Lexical Decision Task

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53706, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 07/2002; 2(2):91-104. DOI: 10.1037//1528-3542.2.2.91
Source: PubMed


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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Available from: Joseph P Newman, Sep 25, 2015
    • "Many theories have been developed to explain psychopathy. These theories include, but are not limited to, the frontal lobe dysfunction model (Neumann, Uzieblo, Crombez, & Hare, 2013;Price, Salekin, Klinger, & Barker, 2013), paralymbic dysfunction (Kiehl, 2006;Kiehl et al., 2001) attentionbased accounts (Lorenz & Newman, 2002;Newman, Schmitt, & Voss, 1997), and emotion-based accounts (Olver, Lewis, & Wong, 2013). Each of these theories has Figure 1. "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychopathy is a complex developmental personality disorder. Recent theories have linked psychopathy to impairment in the frontostriatal circuitry linking the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Similar neural regions have been implicated in decision-making. Given the importance of decision-making in the context of personal and societal problems, together with the convergence of brain regions important in both decision-making and psychopathy, the study of decision-making in psychopathy has the potential to illuminate important cognitive and neurobiological bases for psychopathy. In this review, we synthesise past research on psychopathy and decision-making, and then describe three decision-making tasks that we predict would be useful for understanding cognitive decisional processes in psychopathy. © 2015 The Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Psychiatry Psychology and Law
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    • "As noted, there is much evidence that individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are less sensitive to cues of distress in others (Blair & Mitchell, 2009). Additionally, findings from learning studies suggest that the rewardfocused behaviour of such individuals may be more resistant to interference from peripheral emotional stimuli than that of individuals low in psychopathic traits (Lorenz & Newman, 2002; Mitchell, Richell, Leonard, & Blair, 2006). It was therefore hypothesised that psychopathic traits would be inversely associated with cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma, but that this association would be strongest when individuals were provided with feedback on the emotional cues of their opponent. "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Psychiatry Psychology and Law
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    • "Deficits in emotion processing related to psychopathy have been demonstrated across multiple modalities. Psychopathic males show reduced physiological responses to unpleasant and fear-inducing events (Patrick et al., 1993, 1994), impaired ability to identify multiple types of facial and vocal expressions (Blair et al., 2002; Kosson et al., 2002; Glass and Newman, 2006; Bagley et al., 2009; Dawel et al., 2012), and reduced response facilitation to emotional words in lexical decision tasks (Lorenz and Newman, 2002). Fewer investigations of these processes have been conducted in female psychopathy. "
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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.
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