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Publication Detail
Psychopathic tendency in violent offenders is associated with reduced aversive Pavlovian inhibition of behavior and associated striatal BOLD signal
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Geurts DEM, von Borries K, Huys QJM, Bulten BH, Verkes RJ, Cools R
  • Publisher:
    Frontiers Media SA
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    psychopathy, Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer, inhibition, fMRI, amygdala, caudate, putamen
  • Notes:
    © 2022 Geurts, von Borries, Huys, Bulten, Verkes and Cools. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
BACKGROUND: Violent offenders with psychopathic tendencies are characterized by instrumental, i.e., planned, callous, and unemotional (aggressive) behavior and have been shown to exhibit abnormal aversive processing. However, the consequences of abnormal aversive processing for instrumental action and associated neural mechanisms are unclear. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Here we address this issue by using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 15 violent offenders with high psychopathic tendencies and 18 matched controls during the performance of an aversive Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer paradigm. This paradigm allowed us to assess the degree to which aversive Pavlovian cues affect instrumental action and associated neural signaling. RESULTS: Psychopathic tendency scores were associated with an attenuation of aversive Pavlovian inhibition of instrumental action. Moreover, exploratory analyses revealed an anomalous positive association between aversive inhibition of action and aversive inhibition of BOLD signal in the caudate nucleus of violent offenders with psychopathic tendencies. In addition, psychopathic tendency also correlated positively with amygdala reactivity during aversive versus neutral cues in Pavlovian training. CONCLUSION: These findings strengthen the hypothesis that psychopathic tendencies in violent offenders are related to abnormal impact of aversive processing on instrumental behavior. The neural effects raise the possibility that this reflects deficient transfer of aversive Pavlovian inhibitory biases onto neural systems that implement instrumental action, including the caudate nucleus.
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