Impairment of both reward and punishment learning in males who have sexually offended against a child
Number of pages
SourceSexual Abuse, 32, 8, (2020), pp. 931-957
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC NRP
SubjectNeuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Prior studies suggest that persons with a sexual offense against a child (PSOCs) present with an impairment in learning from reinforcement, which may contribute to the behavioral dysregulation often seen in PSOCs. Therefore, gaining more insight into the nature of this impairment seems essential to better understand child sexual (re)offending. Using a passive avoidance task, we found that PSOCs (n = 57) have difficulties with selecting behaviors that are associated with reward and suppressing behaviors that are associated with punishment relative to nonoffending men (n = 33), but not compared with persons with a nonsexual offense history (n = 31). The latter ability was particularly compromised in nonpedophilic PSOCs. By unraveling a source of pathology in the mechanisms that are involved in behavioral control, this study helps setting a step toward new, more tailored, therapeutic approaches.
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