Resting autonomic nervous system activity is unrelated to antisocial behaviour dimensions in adolescents: Cross-sectional findings from a European multi-centre study

Martin Prätzlich, Helena Oldenhof, Martin Steppan, Katharina Ackermann, Rosalind Baker, Molly Batchelor, Sarah Baumann, Anka Bernhard, Roberta Clanton, Dimitris Dikeos, Roberta Dochnal, Lynn Valérie Fehlbaum, Aranzazu Fernández-Rivas, Maider González de Artaza-Lavesa, Karen Gonzalez-Madruga, Silvina Guijarro, Malou Gundlach, Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Amaia Hervas, Lucres JansenI. aki Kerexeta-Lizeaga, Linda Kersten, Marietta Kirchner, Gregor Kohls, Angeliki Konsta, Helen Lazaratou, Anne Martinelli, Willeke Martine Menks, Ignazio Puzzo, Nora Maria Raschle, Jack Rogers, R. ka Siklósi, Areti Smaragdi, Noortje Vriends, Kerstin Konrad, Stephane de Brito, Graeme Fairchild, Meinhard Kieser, Christine M. Freitag, Arne Popma, Christina Stadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning has long been studied in relation to antisocial behaviour, but relevant measures (heart rate, heart rate variability, pre-ejection period, respiration rate) have rarely been considered together. This study investigated the relationship between these measures and antisocial behaviour. Methods: Using a sample of 1010 youths with (47.8%) and without conduct disorder (52.2%) aged between 9 and 18. years (659 females, 351 males, mean age = 14.2. years, SD = 2.4), principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to various measures of psychopathology and antisocial behavior. Structural equation modelling was performed in order to test whether the ANS measures predicted PCA-dimensions. Cluster analysis was used in order to classify patterns of ANS activity. Analyses were performed separately for males/females and controlled for body-mass-index, age, caffeine use, cigarette smoking, sports, socioeconomic status, medication, cardiac problems. Results: The PCA yielded three components: antisocial behaviour/comorbid psychopathology, narcissistic traits, and callous-unemotional traits. ANS measures were only weakly correlated with these components. Cluster analysis yielded high and low arousal clusters in both sexes. When controlling for covariates, all associations disappeared. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that resting ANS measures are only weakly related to antisocial behaviour and indicate that smoking should be considered as an important covariate in future psychophysiological studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101536
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Volume65
Early online date2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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