Dr. Derek Mitchell - 2016 to 2018
Western University

"Amplifying empathy-related brain activity in youth with callous and unemotional traits"

This study aims to measure, using neuroimaging techniques, the capacity of subgroups of youths with conduct disorder with high and low levels of callous traits to use directed attention to distress and perspective-taking to increase their feelings of concern and sensitivity. The primary outcome measure will be activation levels of specific brain regions associated with emotion and empathy: the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Our central theory is that the subgroups of youths with conduct disorder will differ in their capacity to benefit from empathy-induction techniques as they view pictures that normally elicit feelings of concern. Whereas youths without callous traits will show a similar or increased capacity to experience empathy to distress-related stimuli relative to controls, those with callous traits will show a reduced capacity.