A multidimensional examination of psychopathy traits and gray matter volume in adults

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Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Uncovering the neurobiological abnormalities that may contribute to the manifestation of psychopathic traits is an important step toward understanding the etiology of this disorder. Although many studies have examined gray matter volume (GMV) in relation to psychopathy, few have examined how dimensions of psychopathic traits interactively relate to GMV, an approach that holds promise for parsing heterogeneity in neurobiological risk factors for this disorder. The aim of this study was to investigate the affective-interpersonal (Factor 1) and impulsive-antisocial (Factor 2) dimensions of psychopathy in relation to cortical surface and subcortical GMV in a mixed-gender, high-risk community sample with significant justice-system involvement (N = 156, 50.0% men). Cortex-wide analysis indicated that (i) the Factor 1 traits correlated negatively with GMV in two cortical clusters, one in the right rostral middle frontal region and one in the occipital lobe, and (ii) the interaction of the affective-interpersonal and impulsive-antisocial traits was negatively associated with GMV bilaterally in the parietal lobe, such that individuals high on both trait dimensions evidenced reduced GMV relative to individuals high on only one psychopathy factor. An interactive effect also emerged for bilateral amygdalar and hippocampal GMV, such that Factor 1 psychopathic traits were significantly negatively associated with GMV only at high (but not low) levels of Factor 2 traits. Results extend prior research by demonstrating the neurobiological correlates of psychopathy differ based on the presentation of Factor 1 and 2 traits.
This article has been accepted for publication in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience published by Oxford University Press. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab131
psychopathy, affective-interpersonal, impulsive-antisocial, gray matter volume
Rickie Miglin, Samantha Rodriguez, Nadia Bounoua, Naomi Sadeh, A multidimensional examination of psychopathy traits and gray matter volume in adults, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2021;, nsab131, https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab131