Emotional Memory for Central and Peripheral Details in Children with Callous-Unemotional Traits


Jill Thijssen, Forensic Psychology Section, Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, the Netherlands. E-mail: Jill.Thijssen@maastrichtuniversity.nl


A limited number of studies have shown that adults and adolescents with psychopathic traits suffer from emotional memory impairment. The present study examined whether this finding could be replicated in a sample of children between 8 and 12 years of age with callous-unemotional (CU) traits. Children with high CU traits (n = 24) were compared with children with low CU traits (n = 18) with regard to performance on a peripheral memory recognition test that examined memory for central and peripheral components of neutral and negative pictures. Results showed that overall recognition rates did not differ between the high- and low-CU groups. For negative pictures, both groups demonstrated better recognition of the central component at the expense of the peripheral component, while for neutral pictures, the peripheral component was better recognized than the central component. This study is the first to demonstrate that children with high CU traits do not suffer from an impaired emotional memory. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.