Unemotional on all counts: Evidence of reduced affective responses in individuals with high callous-unemotional traits across emotion systems and valences

Kostas A. Fanti, Georgia Panayiotou, Michael V. Lombardo, Melina Nicole Kyranides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The current study aimed to identify atypical neurophysiological activity associated with deficient affective processing in individuals with high callous-unemotional traits (CU). Fifty-six participants (M age = 20.52; 46% male) divided in two groups, differentiated on levels of CU traits, were invited to participate in the experimental phase of the study. Medial prefrontal cortex activity, measured with functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, and facial electro-myography activity were recorded during videos depicting violent, comedy and neutral scenes. Individuals high on CU traits showed similar medial prefrontal cortex oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO2) activity to positive and negative films, while the pre-frontal cortical responses of low CU individuals were more pronounced to positive than negative materials. High CU participants also showed reduced facial electromyography at the corrugator muscle in response to violent films, which was not differentiated from their responses to comedy films. These findings suggest that individuals high on CU traits show reduced but not absent (i.e., flat) affect to emotional material. Deficits in processing positive and negative valent material, measured with different neuro-physiological modalities, might be essential to understand CU traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • callous-unemotional traits
  • reduced affective responses
  • functional-near infrared resonance imaging
  • electromyography
  • medial prefrontal cortex

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