Amygdala Hypoactivity to Fearful Faces in Boys With Conduct Problems and Callous-Unemotional Traits

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Objective

Although early-onset conduct problems predict both psychiatric and health problems in adult life, little research has been done to index neural correlates of conduct problems. Emerging research suggests that a subgroup of children with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits may be genetically vulnerable to manifesting disturbances in neural reactivity to emotional stimuli indexing distress. Using functional MRI, the authors evaluated differences in neural response to emotional stimuli between boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits and comparison boys.

Method

Seventeen boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits and 13 comparison boys of equivalent age (mean=11 years) and IQ (mean=100) viewed blocked presentations of fearful and neutral faces. For each face, participants distinguished the sex of the face via manual response.

Results

Relative to the comparison group, boys with conduct problems and elevated levels of callous-unemotional traits manifested lesser right amygdala activity to fearful faces.

Conclusions

This finding is in line with data from studies of adults with antisocial behavior and callous-unemotional traits (i.e., psychopaths), as well as from a recent study of adolescents with callous-unemotional traits, and suggests that the neural substrates of emotional impairment associated with callous-unemotional antisocial behavior are already present in childhood.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles