Impaired social response reversal. A case of 'acquired sociopathy'

R. J.R. Blair, L. Cipolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

666 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study, we report a patient (J.S.) who, following trauma to the right frontal region, including the orbitofrontal cortex, presented with 'acquired sociopathy'. His behaviour was notably aberrant and marked by high levels of aggression and a callous disregard for others. A series of experimental investigations were conducted to address the cognitive dysfunction that might underpin his profoundly aberrant behaviour. His performance was contrasted with that of a second patient (C.L.A.), who also presented with a grave dysexecutive syndrome but no socially aberrant behaviour, and five inmates of Wormwood Scrubs prison with developmental psychopathy. While J.S. showed no reversal learning impairment, he presented with severe difficulty in emotional expression recognition, autonomic responding and social cognition. Unlike the comparison populations, J.S. showed impairment in: the recognition of, and autonomic responding to, angry and disgusted expressions; attributing the emotions of fear, anger and embarrassment to story protagonists; and the identification of violations of social behaviour. The findings are discussed with reference to models regarding the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in the control of aggression. It is suggested that J.S.'s impairment is due to a reduced ability to generate expectations of others' negative emotional reactions, in particular anger. In healthy individuals, these representations act to suppress behaviour that is inappropriate in specific social contexts. Moreover, it is proposed that the orbitofrontal cortex may be implicated specifically either in the generation of these expectations or the use of these expectations to suppress inappropriate behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1141
Number of pages20
JournalBrain
Volume123
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2000

Keywords

  • Acquired sociopathy
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Psychopath

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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