A systematic review examining the link between psychopathic personality traits, antisocial behavior, and neural reactivity during reward and loss processing

Personal Disord. 2018 Nov;9(6):497-509. doi: 10.1037/per0000308. Epub 2018 Aug 6.


Antisocial Behavior (AB) has a tremendous societal cost, motivating investigation of the mechanisms that cause individuals to engage and persist in AB. Recent theories of AB emphasize the role of reward-related neural processes in the etiology of severe and chronic forms of AB, including antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. However, no systematic reviews have evaluated the hypothesis that reward-related neural dysfunction is an etiologic factor in AB in adult samples. Moreover, it is unclear whether AB is linked to a hyper- or hyposensitive reward system and whether AB is related to neural sensitivity to losses. Thus, the current systematic review examined whether AB (including antisocial personality disorder) and psychopathic traits are related to neural reactivity during reward processing, loss processing, or both. Our review identified seven task-based functional MRI or functional connectivity studies that examined associations between neural response to reward and loss, and dimensional and categorical measures of adult AB and/or psychopathy. Across studies, there was evidence that AB is associated with variability in neural functioning during both reward and loss processing. In particular, impulsive-antisocial traits appeared to be specifically associated with hypersensitivity in the ventral striatum during the anticipation, but not the receipt, of rewards. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Reward*