Biological Psychology/Pharmacopsychology. Main Editor: P. Netter (Giessen) / Original Paper
Functional Imaging of Conditioned Aversive Emotional Responses in Antisocial Personality DisorderSchneider F.a · Habel U.a · Kessler C.a · Posse S.b · Grodd W.c · Müller-Gärtner H.-W.d
aDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Düsseldorf, bInstitute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, cDepartment of Neuroradiology, University of Tübingen, and dDepartment of Nuclear Medicine, University of Düsseldorf, Germany
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Individuals with antisocial personality disorder (n = 12) and healthy controls (n = 12) were examined for cerebral regional activation involved in the processing of negative affect. A differential aversive classical conditioning paradigm was applied with odors as unconditioned stimuli and faces as conditioned stimuli. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) based on echo-planar imaging was used while cerebral activity was studied during habituation, acquisition, and extinction. Individually defined cerebral regions were analyzed. Both groups indicated behavioral conditioning following subjective ratings of emotional valence to conditioned stimuli. Differential effects were found during acquisition in the amygdala and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Controls showed signal decreases, patients signal increases. These preliminary results revealed unexpected signal increases in cortical/subcortical areas of patients. The increases may result from an additional effort put in by these individuals to form negative emotional associations, a pattern of processing that may correspond to their characteristic deviant emotional behavior.
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