Differential Relations Between Juvenile Psychopathic Traits and Resting State Network Connectivity

M.D. Cohn, L.E. Pape, L. Schmaal, W. van den Brink, G. van Wingen, R.R.J.M. Vermeiren, T.A.H. Doreleijers, D.J. Veltman, A. Popma

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Traditionally, neurobiological research on psychopathy has focused on categorical differences in adults. However, there is evidence that psychopathy is best described by a set of relatively independent personality dimensions, that is, callous-unemotional, grandiose-manipulative, and impulsive-irresponsible traits, which can be reliably detected in juveniles, allowing investigation of the neural mechanisms leading to psychopathy. Furthermore, complex psychiatric disorders like psychopathy are increasingly being conceptualized as disorders of brain networks. The intrinsic organization of the brain in such networks is reflected by coherent fluctuations in resting state networks (RSNs), but these have not been studied in sufficient detail in relation to juvenile psychopathic traits yet. The current study investigated the distinct associations of juvenile psychopathic traits dimensions with RSN connectivity. Resting-state functional MRI and independent component analysis were used to assess RSN connectivity in a large sample of adolescents (n = 130, mean age 17.8 years) from a childhood arrestee cohort. Associations between scores on each of the three psychopathic traits dimensions and connectivity within and between relevant RSNs were investigated. Callous-unemotional traits were related to aberrant connectivity patterns of the default mode network, which has been implicated in self-referential and moral processes. Impulsive-irresponsible traits were associated with altered connectivity patterns in the frontoparietal cognitive control networks. Grandiose-manipulative traits were not associated with altered connectivity patterns. These findings confirm the association between psychopathic traits and brain network connectivity, and considerably add to emerging evidence supporting neurobiological heterogeneity in the processes leading to psychopathy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2396-2405
JournalHuman brain mapping
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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