Mesolimbic dopamine reward system hypersensitivity in individuals with psychopathic traits

Joshua W. Buckholtz, Michael T. Treadway, Ronald L. Cowan, Neil D. Woodward, Stephen D. Benning, Rui Li, M. Sib Ansari, Ronald M. Baldwin, Ashley N. Schwartzman, Evan S. Shelby, Clarence E. Smith, David Cole, Robert M. Kessler, David H. Zald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

318 Scopus citations


Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is strongly linked to criminal behavior. Using [18 F]fallypride positron emission tomography and blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that impulsive-antisocial psychopathic traits selectively predicted nucleus accumbens dopamine release and reward anticipation-related neural activity in response to pharmacological and monetary reinforcers, respectively. These findings suggest that neurochemical and neurophysiological hyper-reactivity of the dopaminergic reward system may comprise a neural substrate for impulsive-antisocial behavior and substance abuse in psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-421
Number of pages3
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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