Dissociable relations between amygdala subregional networks and psychopathy trait dimensions in conduct-disordered juvenile offenders

Moji Aghajani, Olivier F. Colins, Eduard T. Klapwijk, Ilya M. Veer, Henrik Andershed, Arne Popma, Nic J. van der Wee, Robert R.J.M. Vermeiren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle*Academicpeer-review

Abstract

Psychopathy is a serious psychiatric phenomenon characterized by a pathological constellation of affective (e.g., callous, unemotional), interpersonal (e.g., manipulative, egocentric), and behavioral (e.g., impulsive, irresponsible) personality traits. Though amygdala subregional defects are suggested in psychopathy, the functionality and connectivity of different amygdala subnuclei is typically disregarded in neurocircuit-level analyses of psychopathic personality. Hence, little is known of how amygdala subregional networks may contribute to psychopathy and its underlying trait assemblies in severely antisocial people. We addressed this important issue by uniquely examining the intrinsic functional connectivity of basolateral (BLA) and centromedial (CMA) amygdala networks in relation to affective, interpersonal, and behavioral traits of psychopathy, in conduct-disordered juveniles with a history of serious delinquency (N = 50, mean age = 16.83 ± 1.32). As predicted, amygdalar connectivity profiles exhibited dissociable relations with different traits of psychopathy. Interpersonal psychopathic traits not only related to increased connectivity of BLA and CMA with a corticostriatal network formation accommodating reward processing, but also predicted stronger CMA connectivity with a network of cortical midline structures supporting sociocognitive processes. In contrast, affective psychopathic traits related to diminished CMA connectivity with a frontolimbic network serving salience processing and affective responding. Finally, behavioral psychopathic traits related to heightened BLA connectivity with a frontoparietal cluster implicated in regulatory executive functioning. We suggest that these trait-specific shifts in amygdalar connectivity could be particularly relevant to the psychopathic phenotype, as they may fuel a self-centered, emotionally cold, and behaviorally disinhibited profile. Hum Brain Mapp 37:4017–4033, 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4033
Number of pages17
JournalHuman brain mapping
Volume37
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • amygdala
  • conduct disorder
  • intrinsic functional connectivity
  • psychopathy

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