Dissociable relations between amygdala subregional networks and psychopathy trait dimensions in conduct‐disordered juvenile offenders
Human Brain Mapping , Volume 37 - Issue 11 p. 4017- 4033
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 5 50, mean age 5 16.83 6 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 traitspecific 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.