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Author Notes:

Joshua W. Buckholtz, Vanderbilt University, Department of Psychology, PMB 407817, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-7817. joshua.buckholtz@vanderbilt.edu. Phone: 615-343-1446.

JWB, RMK, and DHZ designed the study; ESS and ANS recruited participants into the study and collected PET and personality data; JWB collected fMRI data, with assistance from ESS and ANS; RL, NDW, and RMK performed single-subject PET data analysis and quality control; JWB performed group level PET data analysis, with assistance from MTT; JWB analyzed fMRI data at all stages; MSA and RB synthesized radiolabeled fallypride for PET scanning; SDB provided conceptual advice, statistical support, and supplementary analyses for the PPI data; RLC oversaw all medical aspects of the protocol; CES and RMK provided medical support for PET scanning; DC provided conceptual support and statistical advice for the study; JWB, MTT, and DHZ wrote the manuscript, with assistance from RLC.

The authors wish to thank Dr. Brian Knutson for kindly making available the MID task; and Candice Weiner and Maureen McHugo for assistance with fMRI scanning and data analysis.


Research Funding:

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA019670-04).


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Brain Mapping
  • Criminals
  • Dopamine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Limbic System
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Personality Assessment
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Reward
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult

Mesolimbic dopamine reward system hypersensitivity in individuals with psychopathic traits

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Journal Title:

Nature Neuroscience


Volume 13, Number 4


, Pages 419-421

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is strongly linked to criminal behavior. Using [18 F]fallypride positron emission tomography and blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that impulsive-antisocial psychopathic traits selectively predicted nucleus accumbens dopamine release and reward anticipation-related neural activity in response to pharmacological and monetary reinforcers, respectively. These findings suggest that neurochemical and neurophysiological hyper-reactivity of the dopaminergic reward system may comprise a neural substrate for impulsive-antisocial behavior and substance abuse in psychopathy.

Copyright information:

© 2010 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

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