Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Inro Brazil (Donders Series 139)

14 November 2013

Promotors: Prof.dr. R.P.C. Kessels, Prof.dr. J.K. Buitelaar

Copromotors: Dr. E.R.A. de Bruin, dr. R. Verkes, dr. B.H. Bulten

Change doesn’t come easy: dynamics of adaptive behavior in psychopathy

A portion of the patient population in Dutch forensic Psychiatric centers (TBS clinics) is diagnosed with psychopathy, a severe personality disorder characterized by affective abnormalities and antisocial behavior. These patients respond poorly to treatment, partly because they have a hard time changing their maladaptive behavioral tendencies. To better understand why the latter is the case, it is necessary to examine how their brain processes information indicating that current behavior must be adjusted, such as errors and negative feedback. In most of the studies included in my thesis, I used electroencephalography (EGG) to assess how patients with psychopathy process (error-related) information. The results show that patients with psychopathy have difficulties in processing information signaling the need to adapt their behavior, and also indicate that the context in which the change of behavior occurs plays a modulatory role in psychopathy. Together, these findings may eventually aid the development of treatment methods that are more suitable for patients with psychopathy.