Emotion processing in youths with conduct problems: an fMRI meta-analysis (Kathryn Berluti et al.)


Emotion processing in youths with conduct problems: an fMRI meta-analysis


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies consistently indicate differences in emotion processing in youth with conduct problems. However, no prior meta-analysis has investigated emotion-specific responses associated with conduct problems. This meta-analysis aimed to generate an up-to-date assessment of socio-affective neural responding among youths with conduct problems. A systematic literature search was conducted in youths (ages 10–21) with conduct problems. Task-specific seed-based d mapping analyses examined responses to threatening images, fearful and angry facial expressions, and empathic pain stimuli from 23 fMRI studies, which included 606 youths with conduct problems and 459 comparison youths. Whole-brain analyses revealed youths with conduct problems relative to typically developing youths, when viewing angry facial expressions, had reduced activity in left supplementary motor area and superior frontal gyrus. Additional region of interest analyses of responses to negative images and fearful facial expressions showed reduced activation in right amygdala across youths with conduct problems. Youths with callous-unemotional traits also exhibited reduced activation in left fusiform gyrus, superior parietal gyrus, and middle temporal gyrus when viewing fearful facial expressions. Consistent with the behavioral profile of conduct problems, these findings suggest the most consistent dysfunction is found in regions associated with empathic responding and social learning, including the amygdala and temporal cortex. Youth with callous-unemotional traits also show reduced activation in the fusiform gyrus, consistent with reduced attention or facial processing. These findings highlight the potential role of empathic responding, social learning, and facial processing along with the associated brain regions as potential targets for interventions.


Berluti, K., Ploe, M.L. & Marsh, A.A. Emotion processing in youths with conduct problems: an fMRI meta-analysis. Transl Psychiatry 13, 105 (2023).