Nav: Home

Altered brain activity in antisocial teenagers

May 27, 2019

Teenage girls with problematic social behavior display reduced brain activity and weaker connectivity between the brain regions implicated in emotion regulation. The findings of an international study carried out by researchers from the University of Zurich and others now offer a neurobiological explanation for the difficulties some girls have in controlling their emotions, and provide indications for possible therapy approaches.

Becoming a teenager means going through a variety of physical and behavioral changes in the context of heightened emotionality. For everyday social functioning, as well as for personal physical and mental well-being, it is important that teenagers are able to recognize, process and control these emotions. For young people who are diagnosed with conduct disorder, this process is difficult, and may lead to antisocial or aggressive reactions that clearly lie outside the age-appropriate norms, e.g. swearing, hitting, stealing and lying. An international team of researchers from Switzerland, Germany and England have been able to demonstrate using functional magnetic resonance imaging that these behavioral difficulties are reflected in the brain activity.

Neural explanation for social deficits

The study involved almost 60 female teenagers aged between 15 and 18 who were asked to try to actively regulate their emotions while the researchers measured their brain activity. Half of the group had previously been diagnosed with conduct disorder, while the other half showed typical social development for their age. In the girls with problematic social behavior, less activity was seen in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, where the brain regions responsible for cognitive control processes are located. In addition, these regions were less connected to other brain regions relevant for emotion processing and cognitive control.

"Our results offer the first neural explanation for deficits in emotion regulation in teenage girls," says first author Professor Nora Raschle of the University of Zurich. "The difference in the neural activities between the two test groups could indicate fundamental differences in emotion regulation. However, it could also be due to delayed brain development in participants with conduct disorders."

Indications for therapy

Treatment for young people diagnosed with conduct disorders may target several levels: Helping them to recognize, process and express their emotions, as well as learning emotion regulation skills. "Our findings indicate that an increased focus on emotion regulation skills may be beneficial," says Raschle. Future studies will also look at the efficacy of specific therapy programs: "We will investigate cognitive-behavioral intervention programs that aim to enhance emotion regulation in girls with conduct disorder and see whether brain function and behavior may change accordingly," explains last author Christina Stadler of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Center in Basel.

It has not yet been investigated whether male teenagers with conduct disorder show similar brain activity during emotion regulation. According to the authors, there are several indicators that the neural characteristics of conduct disorders may be gender-specific. "However, most studies - unlike ours - focus on young men, for which reason the neuro-biological understanding established up to now is mainly related to males", says Raschle.
-end-
Altered Brain Activity in Antisocial Teenagers

This study is part of the FemNAT-CD project, a European research project that aims to investigate the causes and treatment of rule-breaking and aggressive behavior in girls with conduct disorder. http://www.femnat-cd.eu

University of Zurich

Related Brain Activity Articles:

How dopamine drives brain activity
Using a specialized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sensor that can track dopamine levels, MIT neuroscientists have discovered how dopamine released deep within the brain influences distant brain regions.
Brain activity intensity drives need for sleep
The intensity of brain activity during the day, notwithstanding how long we've been awake, appears to increase our need for sleep, according to a new UCL study in zebrafish, published in Neuron.
Do babies like yawning? Evidence from brain activity
Contagious yawning is observed in many mammals, but there is no such report in human babies.
Understanding brain activity when you name what you see
Using complex statistical methods and fast measurement techniques, researchers found how the brain network comes up with the right word and enables us to say it.
Your brain activity can be used to measure how well you understand a concept
As students learn a new concept, measuring how well they grasp it has often depended on traditional paper and pencil tests.
Altered brain activity in antisocial teenagers
Teenage girls with problematic social behavior display reduced brain activity and weaker connectivity between the brain regions implicated in emotion regulation.
Gender impacts brain activity in alcoholics
Compared to alcoholic women, alcoholic men have more diminished brain activity in areas responsible for emotional processing (limbic regions including the amygdala and hippocampus), as well as memory and social processing (cortical regions including the superior frontal and supramarginal regions) among other functions.
Light, physical activity reduces brain aging
Incremental physical activity, even at light intensity, is associated with larger brain volume and healthy brain aging.
Measuring brain activity in milliseconds possible through new research
Researchers from King's College London, Harvard and INSERM-Paris have discovered a new way to measure brain function in milliseconds using magnetic resonance elastography (MRE).
Autism: Brain activity as a biomarker
Researchers from Jülich, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and the UK have discovered specific activity patterns in the brains of people with autism.
More Brain Activity News and Brain Activity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.