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Title: Callous-unemotional trait modulation of the neurological processing of empathy and emotion
Author: Lethbridge, Emma M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 2420
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2015
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Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits are personality attributes which include a deficit of affective valence and reduced empathetic responding (Guay et al., 2007). Conditions that exhibit high levels of CU traits demonstrate a disassociation within empathic processing; typically, emotional empathy is evidenced to be dysfunctional, while cognitive empathy is reported intact (e.g. psychopathy - Blair, 2008, 2005). This profile of empathetic processing, in relation to CU traits, was investigated in the general population. 124 participants completed the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (Frick, 2004), the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983), the Empathy Quotient (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004), an expression recognition task, and a measure of affective response. Negative correlations with CU trait score were observed for both cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Accuracy in the identification of fearful expressions presented a negative association with CU trait score. Self-rating of affective valence, when viewing both positive and negative images, indicates a universal reduction in emotional response associated with increased CU trait manifestation. The dual reduction in empathy contrasts clinical research (Richell et al., 2003; Blair et al., 1996); however, the findings regarding expression recognition and emotional valence mirror previous clinical findings (Hastings et al., 2008; Herpertz et al., 2001). High, low and control CU trait experimental groups were selected using the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits from the research sample described above. These groups were used to explore the neural responses of participants with defined levels of CU trait manifestation to stimuli associated with empathy and affective valence. Electroencephalographic recording and event-related potential analysis were used to investigate the group's neural responses to 3 types of stimuli: facial expressions, painful and non-painful situations and emotional stimuli (both attended and unattended). Differences in the ERP responses of the CU trait groups were observed across the research, furthermore an interacting effect of attention was observed in the exploration of affective valence.
Supervisor: Richardson, Paul ; Reidy, Lisa ; Taroyan, Naira Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available