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Anger provocation increases limbic and decreases medial prefrontal cortex connectivity with the left amygdala in reactive aggressive violent offenders.

Authors
  • Siep, Nicolette1
  • Tonnaer, Franca2, 3
  • van de Ven, Vincent4
  • Arntz, Arnoud1, 5
  • Raine, Adrian6
  • Cima, Maaike7, 8
  • 1 Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200, MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 2 Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200, MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands. [email protected] , (Netherlands)
  • 3 Department of Research, Forensic Psychiatric Centre de Rooyse Wissel, Venray, The Netherlands. [email protected] , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 5 Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 6 Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, PA, USA.
  • 7 Department of Developmental Psychopathology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 8 Conrisq Group, Juvenile Youth Institutions (YouthCarePLUS), BJ Brabant, OGH Zetten & Pactum, Zetten, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Brain Imaging and Behavior
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2019
Volume
13
Issue
5
Pages
1311–1323
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11682-018-9945-6
PMID: 30145716
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Neurobiological models propose reactive aggression as a failure in emotion regulation, caused by an imbalance between prefrontal cortical control and excessive bottom-up signals of negative affect by limbic regions, including the amygdala. Therefore, we hypothesize a negative correlation between PFC and amygdala activity (pre/post resting-state scans) in violent offenders. In this study resting-state fMRI was administered before and after an emotion (anger and happiness) provocation or engagement task within 18 male violent offenders scoring high on reactive aggression, and 18 male non-offender controls. Research in emotional pre/post resting-state showed altered connectivity by task performance. Therefore, bilateral amygdala region of interest (ROI) whole brain functional connectivity analysis tested dynamic change differences between pre and post resting-state connectivity between groups. Self-reported anger showed a positive significant relationship with medial prefrontal cortex activity in the pre-task scan and significantly increased during the emotion task in both the violent and control group. Imaging results showed a significant decrease in amygdala - medial prefrontal functional connectivity in the violent offenders and an increase in the non-offender controls after the emotion task. The opposite pattern was found for amygdala connectivity with the (para) limbic regions: violent offenders showed increased connectivity and non-offender controls showed decreased connectivity. The present results indicate that reactive aggression might stem from a focus on emotion processing, as indicated by an increase in limbic functional connectivity. The combination of a focus on emotion, along with a lack of medial prefrontal cortex regulation, has the potential to grow out of control e.g. in reactive aggression.

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