Studies addressing the neural correlates of criminal behavior have focused primarily on the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. However, few studies have examined dopaminergic inputs to these or other brain regions, despite the fact that central dopamine (DA) dysfunction is associated with both trait impulsivity and novelty seeking. Given long-standing associations between both of these personality traits and externalizing psychopathology, the authors examined effective connectivity between the caudate nucleus and the anterior cingulate cortex, two areas that rely on DA input to facilitate associative learning and goal directed behavior. Dysfunction in top-down and bottom-up processing within this dopaminergically mediated frontostriatal circuit may be an important biological vulnerability that increases one's likelihood of engaging in delinquent and criminal behavior. When compared with controls, reduced effective connectivity between these regions among adolescents with externalizing psychopathology was found, suggesting deficiencies in frontostriatal circuitry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine