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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Aug;9(8):1099-107. doi: 10.1093/scan/nst093. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

Distinct neural activation patterns underlie economic decisions in high and low psychopathy scorers.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, PortugalLaboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, PortugalLaboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal joanabvieira@gmail.com.
2
Laboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, PortugalLaboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.
3
Laboratory of Neuropsychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA, and School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.

Abstract

Psychopathic traits affect social functioning and the ability to make adaptive decisions in social interactions. This study investigated how psychopathy affects the neural mechanisms that are recruited to make decisions in the ultimatum game. Thirty-five adult participants recruited from the community underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning while they performed the ultimatum game under high and low cognitive load. Across load conditions, high psychopathy scorers rejected unfair offers in the same proportion as low scorers, but perceived them as less unfair. Among low scorers, the perceived fairness of offers predicted acceptance rates, whereas in high scorers no association was found. Imaging results revealed that responses in each group were associated with distinct patterns of brain activation, indicating divergent decision mechanisms. Acceptance of unfair offers was associated with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity in low scorers and ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity in high scorers. Overall, our findings point to distinct motivations for rejecting unfair offers in individuals who vary in psychopathic traits, with rejections in high psychopathy scorers being probably induced by frustration. Implications of these results for models of ventromedial prefrontal cortex dysfunction in psychopathy are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

functional magnetic resonance imaging; psychopathy; ultimatum game; ventromedial prefrontal cortex

PMID:
23748499
PMCID:
PMC4127018
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nst093
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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