Brain Activity Elicited by Reward and Reward Omission in Individuals with Psychopathic Traits: An ERP Study

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Abstract

Psychopathy has been associated with behavioral adaptation deficits, which might be associated with problems in feedback and reward processing. In the present study, we examined the relation between psychopathic traits and reward processing in a passive gambling task. A total of 39 male participants who scored high (HP) and 39 male participants who scored low (LP) on the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM) total score were tested. Feedback-related Event-Related Potentials (ERPs; i.e., P2, FRN, and P3) on predicted and unpredicted rewards and reward omissions were compared between both groups. It was found that in HP individuals the P2 was enhanced for predicted rewards and reward omissions, but not for unpredicted stimuli. Moreover, HP individuals as compared to the LP individuals demonstrated a generally reduced P3 amplitude. The FRN amplitude, however, did not differ between the two groups. In addition, HP individuals showed enhanced reward sensitivity on the self-report level. Taken together these findings suggest that HP individuals show enhanced sensitivity to early and reduced sensitivity to later markers of processing reinforcement learning signals, which points in the direction of compromised behavioral adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume110
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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