Brains of Young People with Severe Behavioral Problems ‘Wired’ Differently
Research published today has revealed new clues which might help explain why young people with the most severe forms of antisocial behaviour struggle to control and regulate their emotions, and might be more susceptible to developing anxiety or depression as a result.
The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, used neuroimaging methods to investigate young people with the condition ‘Conduct Disorder’ – typified by symptoms that range from lying and truancy, through to physical violence and weapon use at its more extreme end.
Researchers from the universities of Bath (UK), Cambridge (UK) and the California Institute of Technology (USA) wanted to understand more about the wiring of the brain in adolescents with Conduct Disorder, and link connectivity to the severity of Conduct Disorder and ‘psychopathic traits’ – the term used to define deficits in guilt, remorse and empathy.
Through functional MRI scans of young people with Conduct Disorder as well as typically-developing teens, the team analysed the amygdala – a key part of the brain involved in understanding others’ emotions – and how it communicates with other parts of the brain.