Psychopathic traits in adolescents are associated with higher structural connectivity

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Altered structural connectivity has been reported in antisocial juveniles, but findings have been inconsistent. Given the phenotypical heterogeneity among individuals showing antisocial behavior, specification of the association between structural connectivity and the dimensions of psychopathic traits (i.e., callous-unemotional, grandiose-manipulative, and impulsive-irresponsible traits) may aid in more reliably elucidating the neural mechanisms underlying antisocial behavior during adolescence. In this study, a sample of 145 adolescents (mean age 17.6, SD 1.6) from a childhood arrestee cohort participated in a neuroimaging protocol including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial diffusivity (AD), as obtained by tract-based spatial statistics, were associated with juveniles' scores on the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory. Grandiose-manipulative traits were positively associated with FA and negatively with RD in a wide range of white matter tracts, suggesting abnormal myelination related to these traits. Callous-unemotional traits were positively associated with FA and AD in specific white matter tracts, including the corpus callosum and corticospinal tract. The differential associations between dimensions of psychopathic traits and measures of structural connectivity support the notion that multiple distinct neural mechanisms underlie antisocial and psychopathic development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-480
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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