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Psychophysiology. 2013 Feb;50(2):210-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01493.x. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Deficient fear conditioning and self-reported psychopathy: the role of fearless dominance.

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1
Affective Neuroscience Lab, Department of Basic and Clinical Psychology, Psychobiology, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain.

Abstract

The role of the two dimensions of psychopathy-dispositional fearlessness (theorized to reflect variations in reactivity of the brain's defensive system) and externalizing proneness (presumed to reflect variations in function of anterior regulatory systems)-in fear learning was examined in a sample of undergraduates assessed using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) who participated in a differential aversive conditioning task. Only scores on self-reported "fearless dominance," irrespective of scores on "impulsive antisociality," were related to diminished acquisition of physiological fear. Consistent with dual-process accounts of psychopathy proposing divergent etiological pathways for the interpersonal/affective and the social deviance features of the disorder, our results lend support to the existence of a deficit in reactivity of the brain's defensive system underlying the fearlessness dimension of psychopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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