16 Citations (Scopus)


Children diagnosed with a Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD, i.e. Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder), especially those with psychopathic traits, are at risk of developing persistent and severe antisocial behavior. Reduced fear conditioning has been proposed to underlie persistent antisocial development. However, we have recently shown that both DBD persisters and desisters are characterized by increased fear conditioning compared with healthy controls (HCs). In this study, we investigated whether brain function during fear extinction is associated with DBD subgroup-membership and psychopathic traits. Adolescents from a childhood arrestee cohort (mean age 17.6 years, s.d. 1.4) who met criteria for a DBD diagnosis during previous assessments were re-assessed and categorized as persistent DBD (n = 25) or desistent DBD (n = 25). Functional MRI during the extinction phase of a classical fear-conditioning task was used to compare regional brain function between these subgroups and 25 matched controls. Both DBD persisters and desisters showed hyperreactivity during fear extinction, when compared with HCs. Impulsive-irresponsible psychopathic traits were positively associated with responses in the fear neurocircuitry and mediated the association between neural activation and group membership. These results suggest that fear acquisition and fear extinction deficits may provide an endophenotype for an emotionally hyperreactive subtype of antisocial development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1035
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Journal Article
  • antisocial behavior
  • extinction
  • fMRI
  • fear conditioning
  • psychopathy

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