Callous-Unemotional Traits Modulate Brain Drug Craving Response in High-Risk Young Offenders

Juvenile Specialty Court

Callous-Unemotional Traits Modulate Brain Drug Craving Response in High-Risk Young Offenders

November 13, 2017

ABSTRACT: Adults with psychopathy have a high propensity for substance abuse, generally starting from a young age. This investigation tested hypotheses about differences in the neural responses associated with drug craving among high- risk young offenders with histories of abuse of stimulants and other drugs as a function of psychopathic traits. Fifty- four male adolescents (44 with a history of stimulant abuse and 10 controls) incarcerated at a maximum-security facility (M age = 17.08 years) completed a drug-cue exposure task while brain hemodynamic activity was monitored using func- tional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a mobile MRI scanner stationed at the facility. Psychopathic traits were assessed using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV). In the stimulant abuser group, drug cues elicited activity in classic reward circuitry. Consistent with studies of adult psychopathic traits and substance abuse, there was a negative association between PCL-YV scores and he- modynamic response related to drug craving in the amygdala and ACC in youth with a history of stimulant abuse. However, there were considerably more negative associations between the PCL:YV and hemodynamic response among youth than adults and this was primarily due to callous-unemotional traits rather than interpersonal or behavioral traits. The implications for how personality traits modulate motivations for drug- seeking behavior among adolescent offenders are discussed.

DOI: 10.1007/s10802-017-0364-8

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Peer-reviewed article