Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Katinka von Borries (Donders Series 169)

24 October 2014

Promotors: Prof.dr. R. Cools, Pof.dr. J. Buitelaar

Copromotors: Dr. R.J. Verkes, dr. E.R.A. de Bruijn

Carrots & Sticks - a neurobehavioral investigation of affective outcome processing in psychopathy

Psychopathy is a disorder which is associated with criminality and violence. It is often diagnosed in forensic samples such as prisoners or forensic psychiatric patients. In the Netherlands, about 20-35% of all TBS patients are diagnosed with psychopathy. These patients are known to respond poorly to treatment and do not seem to learn from consequences of previous behavior. It is important to better understand why it is so difficult to successfully treat them in order to develop more effective treatment programs. In the present thesis several forms of learning are investigated in individuals with psychopathy. The focus is on neurobehavioral mechanisms related to the processing of affective outcomes such as reward and punishment. Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are used to investigate how individuals with psychopathy anticipate and process such information. Results show that patients with psychopathy demonstrate abnormalities in processing external outcome information as early as during the anticipation of an outcome. Abnormalities in approach-avoidance tendencies towards affective stimuli, and less effective use of external outcome information was demonstrated.