Heightened early-attentional stimulus orienting and impulsive action in men with antisocial personality disorder

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2017 Oct;267(7):697-707. doi: 10.1007/s00406-016-0734-1. Epub 2016 Sep 23.


We tested whether enhanced stimulus orienting operationalized as N1 and P2 auditory evoked potentials to increasing loudness (50-90 dB clicks) could be associated with trait impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, BIS-11), impulsive action (commission error on the Immediate Memory Task), or impulsive choice (immediate responses on temporal discounting tasks). We measured N1 and P2 loudness sensitivity in a passive listening task as linear intensity-sensitivity slopes in 36 men with antisocial personality disorder with a history of conviction for criminal conduct and 16 healthy control men. Across all subjects, regression analyses revealed that a steeper P2 slope predicted higher IMT commission error/correct detection ratio, and lower stimulus discriminability (A-prime). These associations were also found within both groups. These relationships suggest an association between enhanced early stimulus orienting (P2), impulsive action (response inhibition), and impaired signal-noise discriminability (A-prime).

Keywords: Aggression; Augmenting–reducing; Conduct disorder; Crime; Evoked potential; Impulsivity.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Young Adult