Adult psychopathic offenders show an increased propensity towards violence, impulsivity, and recidivism. A subsample of youth with elevated psychopathic traits represent a particularly severe subgroup characterized by extreme behavioral problems and comparable neurocognitive deficits as their adult counterparts, including perseveration deficits. Here, we investigate response-locked event-related potential (ERP) components (the error-related negativity [ERN/Ne] related to early error-monitoring processing and the error-related positivity [Pe] involved in later error-related processing) in a sample of incarcerated juvenile male offenders (n=100) who performed a response inhibition Go/NoGo task. Psychopathic traits were assessed using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV). The ERN/Ne and Pe were analyzed with classic windowed ERP components and principal component analysis (PCA). Using linear regression analyses, PCL:YV scores were unrelated to the ERN/Ne, but were negatively related to Pe mean amplitude. Specifically, the PCL:YV Facet 4 subscale reflecting antisocial traits emerged as a significant predictor of reduced amplitude of a subcomponent underlying the Pe identified with PCA. This is the first evidence to suggest a negative relationship between adolescent psychopathy scores and Pe mean amplitude.
Keywords: Error-related processing; Event-related potentials; Juvenile delinquency; Principal component analysis; Psychopathy.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Ltd.