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Emotion modulation of the pupil response in psychopathy

Burley, Daniel, Gray, Nicola and Snowden, Robert 2019. Emotion modulation of the pupil response in psychopathy. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 10 (4) , pp. 365-375. 10.1037/per0000313

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Psychopathy is a form of personality disorder associated with a deficit in emotional processing. However, there is debate whether this deficit applies to all emotions or exists only for negative emotions. The pupil dilates rapidly in response to emotional stimuli, allowing a time-sensitive index of emotional processing. Across 3 experiments using (a) visual images of real-world scenes, (b) auditory sound clips, and (c) videos of dynamic facial expressions, we measured emotional modulation of the pupil response to both negative and positive stimuli. Participants were 82 male mentally disordered offenders. Psychopathy was measured using the Psychopathy Checklist—Revised to produce factor scores of interpersonal–affective traits (Factor 1) and lifestyle–antisocial traits (Factor 2). Participants with high Factor 1 scores showed reduced emotional modulation of the pupil response to negative images and angry faces but not to any of the positive stimuli. These effects only occurred shortly after the emotion was presented (<2,000 ms), suggesting delayed processing of negative affective stimuli in Factor 1 psychopathy. Factor 2 scores were not associated with any changes in pupil response. There were no effects of psychopathy on the pupil response to the affective sound clips. The results support a specific psychopathic deficit in the processing of negative stimuli related to the interpersonal–affective dimension of psychopathy. We argue that pupillometry is a powerful and noninvasive tool to investigate emotional processing in clinical populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1949-2715
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 14 September 2018
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2019 12:21

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