Neuroimaging findings in disruptive behavior disorders

Rosalind H. Baker, Roberta L. Clanton, Jack C. Rogers, Stéphane A. De Brito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
360 Downloads (Pure)


Decades of research have shown that youths with disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) are a heterogeneous population. Over the past 20 years, researchers have distinguished youths with DBD as those displaying high (DBD/HCU) versus low (DBD/LCU) callous-unemotional (CU) traits. These traits include flat affect and reduced empathy and remorse, and are associated with more severe, varied, and persistent patterns of antisocial behavior and aggression. Conduct problems in youths with HCU and LCU are thought to reflect distinct causal vulnerabilities, with antisocial behavior in youths with DBD/HCU reflecting a predominantly genetic etiology, while antisocial behavior in youths with DBD/LCU is associated primarily with environmental influences. Here we selectively review recent functional (fMRI) and structural (sMRI) magnetic resonance imaging research on DBD, focusing particularly on the role of CU traits. First, fMRI studies examining the neural correlates of affective stimuli, emotional face processing, empathy, theory of mind, morality, and decision-making in DBD are discussed. This is followed by a review of the studies investigating brain structure and structural connectivity in DBD. Next, we highlight the need to further investigate females and the role of sex differences in this population. We conclude the review by identifying potential clinical implications of this research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number4
Early online date10 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Antisocial behavior
  • callous-unemotional traits
  • conduct disorder
  • conduct problems
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • disruptive behavior disorders
  • fMRI
  • sex differences
  • surface-based morphometry
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroimaging findings in disruptive behavior disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this