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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Characterising affective vulnerabilities in children with different subtypes of antisocial behaviour

This ESRC funded project focused on brain differences associated with risk for antisocial behaviour. Recent research suggests that the amygdala is important for processing emotional cues. Both an under and over-reactive amygdala could make an individual more likely to engage in antisocial and aggressive behaviour. 

We already know that the amygdala of children with callous-unemotional traits is under-active when they view pictures of other people looking fearful. This could mean that instead of their amygdala signaling that they are causing distress to someone else, it is 'telling' them nothing at all. Alternatively, it may mean that children with callous-unemotional traits are just not paying attention to relevant information in fearful faces, such as the eye region. It has also been speculated that children who engage in 'hot-headed' antisocial behaviour, but have the capacity to empathise, could suffer from an over-active amygdala that makes them vulnerable to react aggressively to anything they see as a threat. None of these speculations had been formally evaluated previously.

This project investigated these issues and provided more information about the emotion processing profiles associated with different subtypes of children with antisocial behaviour.