EMPATHY: An MRI study of emotion processing in boys with aggressive behavior and other conduct problems and boys without a history of mental health problems
Conduct problems such as aggressive behavior are a common problem in children and adolescents, with significant costs both to the children and their families and to communities. There is increasing evidence that children with conduct problems who also have high levels of callous and unemotional (CU) personality traits, such as lack of empathy, may have different abnormalities in brain development and respond differently to treatment than children with conduct problems without these traits, who are more likely to have features of anxiety. Children with high CU traits have been observed to have difficulty identifying emotions in other people, possibly related to not paying attention to some facial cues. However, there have not been studies directly comparing brain responses to facial expressions in children with and without CU traits, and whether these responses might alter if attention is redirected. Therefore the goal of this study is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to better understand brain activity in children with different kinds of conduct problems, and to determine whether an intervention to change visual attention in children with conduct problems affects brain activity and emotional responses in response to signs of distress in others.
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Having an MRI: what to expect
Related Downloads: Empathy study flyer.pdf