Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Reduced electrodermal fear conditioning from ages 3 to 8 years is associated with aggressive behavior at age 8 years
Version of Record online: 28 SEP 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 51, Issue 5, pages 550–558, May 2010
How to Cite
Gao, Y., Raine, A., Venables, P. H., Dawson, M. E. and Mednick, S. A. (2010), Reduced electrodermal fear conditioning from ages 3 to 8 years is associated with aggressive behavior at age 8 years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51: 550–558. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02176.x
- Issue online: 1 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 28 SEP 2009
- Manuscript accepted 25 August 2009
- Fear conditioning;
Background: Poor fear conditioning characterizes adult psychopathy and criminality, but it is not known whether it is related to aggressive/antisocial behavior in early childhood.
Methods: Using a differential, partial reinforcement conditioning paradigm, electrodermal activity was recorded from 200 male and female children at ages 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 years. Antisocial/aggressive and hyperactive-inattentive measures were collected at age 8.
Results: Poor electrodermal fear conditioning from ages 3 to 8 years was associated with aggressive behavior at age 8 in both males and females.
Conclusions: Results indicate that the relationship between poor fear conditioning and aggression occurs early in childhood. Enhanced electrodermal fear conditioning may protect children against future aggressive/violent behavior. Abnormal amygdala functioning, as indirectly assessed by fear conditioning, may be one of the factors influencing the development of childhood aggression.