Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Psychopaths Appear Less Attuned to Facial Emotions

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Psychopaths Appear Less Attuned to Facial Emotions

Article excerpt

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Psychopaths are far more likely than are control patients to make errors on a task requiring the identification of facial emotions while showing no differences in a similar task requiring identification of letters of the alphabet, according to a poster presented by Gillian E. Munro at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Simultaneous recording of event-related potentials from the anterior cingulate cortex demonstrated less of an error-related negativity (ERN) in psychopaths, but only on the task requiring emotional identification, reported Ms. Munro, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Waterloo (Ont.). This suggests that psychopaths generate a less robust neural response to the commission of errors in that context.

The investigators enrolled 15 forensic patients incarcerated at the Penetanguishene (Ont.) Mental Health Centre, Oakridges Division, and used 15 male staff members as controls.

The "letter flanker" task involved the identification (by key press) of the central letter in arrays of five letters, such as HHHHH, HHSHH, SSSSS, or SSHSS. Four hundred eighty letter arrays were presented for 190 milliseconds. …

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