Reduced amygdala response in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits: Decreased emotional response versus increased top-down attention to nonemotional features

Stuart F. White, Abigail A. Marsh, Katherine A. Fowler, Julia C. Schechter, Christopher Adalio, Kayla Pope, Stephen Sinclair, Daniel S. Pine, R. James R Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

89 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Amygdala dysfunction has been reported to exist in youths and adults with psychopathic traits. However, there has been disagreement as to whether this dysfunction reflects a primary emotional deficit or is secondary to atypical attentional control. The authors examined the validity of the contrasting predictions. Method: Participants were 15 children and adolescents (ages 10-17 years) with both disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits and 17 healthy comparison youths. Functional MRI was used to assess the response of the amygdala and regions implicated in top-down attentional control (the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices) to emotional expression under conditions of high and low attentional load. Results: Relative to youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits, healthy comparison subjects showed a significantly greater increase in the typical amygdala response to fearful expressions under low relative to high attentional load conditions. There was also a selective inverse relationship between the response to fearful expressions under low attentional load and the callousunemotional component (but not the narcissism or impulsivity component) of psychopathic traits. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in the significant recruitment of the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices as a function of attentional load. Conclusions: Youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits showed reduced amygdala responses to fearful expressions under low attentional load but no indications of increased recruitment of regions implicated in topdown attentional control. These findings suggest that the emotional deficit observed in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits is primary and not secondary to increased topdown attention to nonemotional stimulus features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-758
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume169
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Amygdala
Frontal Lobe
Narcissism
Impulsive Behavior
Healthy Volunteers
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Reduced amygdala response in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits : Decreased emotional response versus increased top-down attention to nonemotional features. / White, Stuart F.; Marsh, Abigail A.; Fowler, Katherine A.; Schechter, Julia C.; Adalio, Christopher; Pope, Kayla; Sinclair, Stephen; Pine, Daniel S.; Blair, R. James R.

In: American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 169, No. 7, 01.07.2012, p. 750-758.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

White, Stuart F. ; Marsh, Abigail A. ; Fowler, Katherine A. ; Schechter, Julia C. ; Adalio, Christopher ; Pope, Kayla ; Sinclair, Stephen ; Pine, Daniel S. ; Blair, R. James R. / Reduced amygdala response in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits : Decreased emotional response versus increased top-down attention to nonemotional features. In: American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012 ; Vol. 169, No. 7. pp. 750-758.
@article{4fb804b460eb4bd385654b8a1d481495,
title = "Reduced amygdala response in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits: Decreased emotional response versus increased top-down attention to nonemotional features",
abstract = "Objective: Amygdala dysfunction has been reported to exist in youths and adults with psychopathic traits. However, there has been disagreement as to whether this dysfunction reflects a primary emotional deficit or is secondary to atypical attentional control. The authors examined the validity of the contrasting predictions. Method: Participants were 15 children and adolescents (ages 10-17 years) with both disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits and 17 healthy comparison youths. Functional MRI was used to assess the response of the amygdala and regions implicated in top-down attentional control (the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices) to emotional expression under conditions of high and low attentional load. Results: Relative to youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits, healthy comparison subjects showed a significantly greater increase in the typical amygdala response to fearful expressions under low relative to high attentional load conditions. There was also a selective inverse relationship between the response to fearful expressions under low attentional load and the callousunemotional component (but not the narcissism or impulsivity component) of psychopathic traits. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in the significant recruitment of the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices as a function of attentional load. Conclusions: Youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits showed reduced amygdala responses to fearful expressions under low attentional load but no indications of increased recruitment of regions implicated in topdown attentional control. These findings suggest that the emotional deficit observed in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits is primary and not secondary to increased topdown attention to nonemotional stimulus features.",
author = "White, {Stuart F.} and Marsh, {Abigail A.} and Fowler, {Katherine A.} and Schechter, {Julia C.} and Christopher Adalio and Kayla Pope and Stephen Sinclair and Pine, {Daniel S.} and Blair, {R. James R}",
year = "2012",
month = "7",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11081270",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "169",
pages = "750--758",
journal = "American Journal of Psychiatry",
issn = "0002-953X",
publisher = "American Psychiatric Association",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Reduced amygdala response in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits

T2 - Decreased emotional response versus increased top-down attention to nonemotional features

AU - White, Stuart F.

AU - Marsh, Abigail A.

AU - Fowler, Katherine A.

AU - Schechter, Julia C.

AU - Adalio, Christopher

AU - Pope, Kayla

AU - Sinclair, Stephen

AU - Pine, Daniel S.

AU - Blair, R. James R

PY - 2012/7/1

Y1 - 2012/7/1

N2 - Objective: Amygdala dysfunction has been reported to exist in youths and adults with psychopathic traits. However, there has been disagreement as to whether this dysfunction reflects a primary emotional deficit or is secondary to atypical attentional control. The authors examined the validity of the contrasting predictions. Method: Participants were 15 children and adolescents (ages 10-17 years) with both disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits and 17 healthy comparison youths. Functional MRI was used to assess the response of the amygdala and regions implicated in top-down attentional control (the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices) to emotional expression under conditions of high and low attentional load. Results: Relative to youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits, healthy comparison subjects showed a significantly greater increase in the typical amygdala response to fearful expressions under low relative to high attentional load conditions. There was also a selective inverse relationship between the response to fearful expressions under low attentional load and the callousunemotional component (but not the narcissism or impulsivity component) of psychopathic traits. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in the significant recruitment of the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices as a function of attentional load. Conclusions: Youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits showed reduced amygdala responses to fearful expressions under low attentional load but no indications of increased recruitment of regions implicated in topdown attentional control. These findings suggest that the emotional deficit observed in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits is primary and not secondary to increased topdown attention to nonemotional stimulus features.

AB - Objective: Amygdala dysfunction has been reported to exist in youths and adults with psychopathic traits. However, there has been disagreement as to whether this dysfunction reflects a primary emotional deficit or is secondary to atypical attentional control. The authors examined the validity of the contrasting predictions. Method: Participants were 15 children and adolescents (ages 10-17 years) with both disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits and 17 healthy comparison youths. Functional MRI was used to assess the response of the amygdala and regions implicated in top-down attentional control (the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices) to emotional expression under conditions of high and low attentional load. Results: Relative to youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits, healthy comparison subjects showed a significantly greater increase in the typical amygdala response to fearful expressions under low relative to high attentional load conditions. There was also a selective inverse relationship between the response to fearful expressions under low attentional load and the callousunemotional component (but not the narcissism or impulsivity component) of psychopathic traits. In contrast, the two groups did not differ in the significant recruitment of the dorsomedial and lateral frontal cortices as a function of attentional load. Conclusions: Youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits showed reduced amygdala responses to fearful expressions under low attentional load but no indications of increased recruitment of regions implicated in topdown attentional control. These findings suggest that the emotional deficit observed in youths with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits is primary and not secondary to increased topdown attention to nonemotional stimulus features.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84863908499&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84863908499&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11081270

DO - 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11081270

M3 - Article

C2 - 22456823

AN - SCOPUS:84863908499

VL - 169

SP - 750

EP - 758

JO - American Journal of Psychiatry

JF - American Journal of Psychiatry

SN - 0002-953X

IS - 7

ER -