Neural correlates of social decision-making in severely antisocial adolescents

Neurobiological and behavioral findings suggest that the development of delinquent behavior is associated with atypical social-affective processing. However, to date, no study has examined neural processes associated with social interactions in severely antisocial adolescents. In this study we investigated the behavioral and neural processes underlying social interactions of juvenile delinquents and a matched control group. Participants played the mini-Ultimatum Game as a responder while in the MRI scanner. Participants rejected unfair offers significantly less when the other player had ‘no alternative’ compared with a ‘fair’ alternative, suggesting that they took the intentions of the other player into account. However, this effect was reduced in the juvenile delinquents. The neuroimaging results revealed that juvenile delinquents showed less activation in the temporal parietal junction (TPJ) and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). However, the groups showed similar activation levels in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the right anterior insula (AI) when norms were violated. These results indicate that juvenile delinquents with severe antisocial behavior process norm violations adequately, but may have difficulties with attending spontaneously to relevant features of the social context during interactions.

Van den Bos, W. et al. (2014). Neural correlates of social decision-making in severely antisocial adolescents. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.