The results of this study can directly inform the assessment and identification of youth at high risk for aggression and criminal behaviour, as well as inform the treatment of antisocial behavior in juvenile justice populations.
The most common diagnosis in incarcerated juvenile populations is conduct disorder, and youth with more severe, persistent, and early-onset conduct problems tend to show callous-unemotional (CU) traits. CU traits include a lack of empathy and guilt, and callous use of others.
An important component of this project is to examine the effects of trauma exposure on personality and emotional development. This cross-sectional study examines whether incarcerated youth with pronounced CU traits show distinct neuropsychological, psychophysiological, and neuroendocrine profiles when divided into primary and secondary groups based on maltreatment history and co-occurring psychopathology. Youth completed a comprehensive emotional assessment, including neurocognitive and psychophysiological testing, and measurement of stress hormone levels. The behavioural and neuroscience findings will serve as the foundation for larger longitudinal studies to track developmental trajectories of CU traits, improve assessment protocols, and test the efficacy of individualized interventions for antisocial and aggressive youth.
This project was funded by the University of South Florida Neurosciences Collaborative