The neurobiology of psychopathic traits in youths

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

281 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conduct disorder is a childhood behaviour disorder that is characterized by persistent aggressive or antisocial behaviour that disrupts the child's environment and impairs his or her functioning. A proportion of children with conduct disorder have psychopathic traits. Psychopathic traits consist of a callous-unemotional component and an impulsive-antisocial component, which are associated with two core impairments. The first is a reduced empathic response to the distress of other individuals, which primarily reflects reduced amygdala responsiveness to distress cues; the second is deficits in decision making and in reinforcement learning, which reflects dysfunction in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and striatum. Genetic and prenatal factors contribute to the abnormal development of these neural systems, and social-environmental variables that affect motivation influence the probability that antisocial behaviour will be subsequently displayed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-799
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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