Article

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 659-668

Paralimbic Gray Matter Reductions in Incarcerated Adolescent Females with Psychopathic Traits

  • Lora M. CopeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of New MexicoThe Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research InstituteAddiction Research Center and Department of Psychiatry, The University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Elsa ErmerAffiliated withDerner Institute Psychology Department, Adelphi University
  • , Prashanth K. NyalakantiAffiliated withThe Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute
  • , Vince D. CalhounAffiliated withThe Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research InstituteDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico
  • , Kent A. KiehlAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of New MexicoThe Mind Research Network and Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute

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Abstract

Psychopathy-related paralimbic and limbic structural brain abnormalities have been implicated in incarcerated adult and adolescent male samples. However, there have been few neuroimaging studies of psychopathic traits in females in general and no studies from incarcerated female youth in particular. Here we present the first study to examine the relationship between brain gray matter volumes and psychopathic traits (assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version [PCL-YV]) in a sample of maximum-security incarcerated female adolescents (N = 39; mean age = 17.6 years). Consistent with male samples, regional gray matter volumes were negatively related to psychopathic traits in female youth offenders in limbic and paralimbic areas, including orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal cortex, temporal poles, and left hippocampus. These results provide evidence that psychopathic traits manifest similar neural abnormalities across sex and age.

Keywords

Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) Psychopathic traits Adolescent females Paralimbic structures Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version (PCL-YV) Incarcerated offenders