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The effects of callous-unemotional traits and aggression subtypes on amygdala activity in response to negative faces


Abstract

BACKGROUND

Brain imaging studies have shown altered amygdala activity during emotion processing in children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) compared to typically developing children and adolescents (TD). Here we aimed to assess whether aggression-related subtypes (reactive and proactive aggression) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits predicted variation in amygdala activity and skin conductance (SC) response during emotion processing.

METHODS

We included 177 participants (n = 108 cases with disruptive behaviour and/or ODD/CD and n = 69 TD), aged 8-18 years, across nine sites in Europe, as part of the EU Aggressotype and MATRICS projects. All participants performed an emotional face-matching functional magnetic resonance imaging task.

RESULTS

Differences between cases and TD in affective processing, as well as specificity of activation patterns for aggression subtypes and CU traits, were assessed. Simultaneous SC recordings were acquired in a subsample (n = 63). Cases compared to TDs showed higher amygdala activity in response to negative faces (fearful and angry) v. shapes. Subtyping cases according to aggression-related subtypes did not significantly influence on amygdala activity; while stratification based on CU traits was more sensitive and revealed decreased amygdala activity in the high CU group. SC responses were significantly lower in cases and negatively correlated with CU traits, reactive and proactive aggression.

CONCLUSIONS

Our results showed differences in amygdala activity and SC responses to emotional faces between cases with ODD/CD and TD, while CU traits moderate both central (amygdala) and peripheral (SC) responses. Our insights regarding subtypes and trait-specific aggression could be used for improved diagnostics and personalized treatment.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Brain imaging studies have shown altered amygdala activity during emotion processing in children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) compared to typically developing children and adolescents (TD). Here we aimed to assess whether aggression-related subtypes (reactive and proactive aggression) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits predicted variation in amygdala activity and skin conductance (SC) response during emotion processing.

METHODS

We included 177 participants (n = 108 cases with disruptive behaviour and/or ODD/CD and n = 69 TD), aged 8-18 years, across nine sites in Europe, as part of the EU Aggressotype and MATRICS projects. All participants performed an emotional face-matching functional magnetic resonance imaging task.

RESULTS

Differences between cases and TD in affective processing, as well as specificity of activation patterns for aggression subtypes and CU traits, were assessed. Simultaneous SC recordings were acquired in a subsample (n = 63). Cases compared to TDs showed higher amygdala activity in response to negative faces (fearful and angry) v. shapes. Subtyping cases according to aggression-related subtypes did not significantly influence on amygdala activity; while stratification based on CU traits was more sensitive and revealed decreased amygdala activity in the high CU group. SC responses were significantly lower in cases and negatively correlated with CU traits, reactive and proactive aggression.

CONCLUSIONS

Our results showed differences in amygdala activity and SC responses to emotional faces between cases with ODD/CD and TD, while CU traits moderate both central (amygdala) and peripheral (SC) responses. Our insights regarding subtypes and trait-specific aggression could be used for improved diagnostics and personalized treatment.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:6 July 2020
Deposited On:13 Jul 2020 12:57
Last Modified:24 Sep 2020 09:16
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0033-2917
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720002111
PubMed ID:32624021
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID602805
  • : Project TitleAggression subtyping for improved insight and treatment innovation in psychiatric disorders
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID603016
  • : Project TitleMultidisciplinary Approaches to Translational Research In Conduct Syndromes

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