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Clinical, Faculty

Dr. Chris Patrick

University of British Columbia, 1987

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Dr. Patrick will be accepting a graduate student for Fall 2017 admissions.

Research Interests

Broadly, my interests lie in the field of clinical neuroscience, which encompasses areas of personality, psychopathology, and human neuroscience. More specifically, my research applies cognitive and affective neuroscience methods to the study of psychopathy, impulse control ("externalizing") problems, and anxiety and mood ("internalizing") disorders. My work focuses on understanding these disorders in terms of individual difference characteristics such as inhibitory control and defensive reactivity that are directly linked to neurobiological systems. My recent research has also incorporated behavioral and molecular genetic techniques to address questions about the etiology of such disorders and affiliated trait dispositions.

Current Research

The clinical phenomena that interest me most are psychopathy, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, and pathological fear. I have a particular interest in underlying brain systems involved in processing and reacting to emotional stimuli.

A major focus of my work over the years has been on studying emotional processing in psychopathic criminals, with results indicating that the interpersonal-affective (“Factor 1”) component of psychopathy is associated with a higher threshold for fear reactivity.

This research, together with other recent work we have done on psychopathy in non-prisoner samples using the self-reported based Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI; Lilienfeld & Andrews, Psy Assessment, 1996), point to "boldness" (a benign expression of temperamental fearlessness--marked by social dominance and emotional resiliency) as a key construct for understanding the phenomenon of "successful" psychopathy. My colleagues and I (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, Development and Psychopathology, 2009) recently advanced a triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy that emphasizes differentiable constructs of boldness, meanness, and disinhibition as important to empirical investigation of the origins and development of Psychopathy. We are now in the process of validating new interview and self-report inventories developed to assess these distinctive phenotypic components of psychopathy in a direct manner.

A related focus of my work (in collaboration with Dr. Robert Krueger) has been on developing a new integrative model of externalizing psychopathology-encompassing child and adult antisocial behavior, alcohol and drug problems, and affiliated personality traits and problem behaviors. This model, termed the externalizing spectrum model (Krueger, Markon, Patrick et al., J Abnormal Psychology, 2007), conceives of traits and problem behaviors within this domain as arising from a broad underlying vulnerability (predominantly genetic in origin) along with other specific etiologic influences that determine the distinctive expression of this vulnerability in one phenotypic form or another. The model also offers a novel research strategy for studying causal factors and processes underlying disorders of this kind. Rather than studying each disorder as a separate entity with its own unique causal underpinnings, one can study the broad dispositional factor these disorders have in common, as well as studying the unique variance associated with each individual disorder. In collaboration with my FSU colleague Dr. Ed Bernat, I have been using electrocortical (EEG/ERP) measures to elucidate brain processing differences underlying variations in general externalizing vulnerability. Our initial papers (Patrick, Bernat et al., Psychophysiology, 2006; Hall, Bernat, & Patrick, Psy Science, 2007) established reduced P300 brain response to target stimuli in an oddball task and reduced amplitude of the error-related negativity (ERN) in a speeded performance task as physiological indicators of this general vulnerability factor. We are extending this work by examining brain responses in variants of these tasks that provide for dissociation of lower-level affective processing from higher elaborative processing of task stimuli. We have found that high externalizing individuals are normally sensitive to the emotional content of exogenous stimuli, even when stimuli are presented briefly and incidentally, but that deeper elaborative processing of stimulus input is impaired in a variety of contexts. This work, currently funded by an NIMH RC1 (“Challenge”) grant, is serving as the basis for a theory of brain processing deficits underlying the general vulnerability to externalizing disorders.

A further line of research, reflecting a merging of my interests in psychopathy and anxiety/mood disorders, entails the study of a trait continuum of fear and fearlessness. This work is funded through an NIMH Center (P50) grant. I conceive of trait fear as a basic neurobiological dimension oblique to (i.e., related to, but distinct from) the broad dimension of negative affectivity that undergirds internalizing disorders. In the first phase of this research, we administered a battery of established measures of fear and fearlessness (including the Fearless Dominance scales from the PPI) to a sample of approximately 2700 adult twins and found that all scales loaded substantially on a large common factor that, like the externalizing factor, was predominantly heritable. In the second phase, which entailed follow-up lab testing of approximately 500 of these twins, we examined physiological (including brain ERP and blink startle) responses to incidental affective stimuli as possible biological (endophenotype) markers of this trait dimension. In addition, we are using electrocortical and neuro-imaging methods to evaluate whether individual differences in trait fear reflect core reactivity differences at the level of basic subcortical systems, or differences in the ability to down-regulate affect mediated by frontal brain regions. We are also examining, within this large adult twin sample, relations between dispositional fear and clinical symptoms of internalizing (anxiety and mood) disorders on one hand, and psychopathy-related personality disorders (narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, antisocial) on the other. Analyses of molecular genetic data from this study sample will also be undertaken.

Ultimately, I believe that individual differences along dimensions such as defensive reactivity and inhibitory control can be defined using physiological (including brain response) measures, and that this improved approach to phenotyping will be a key to elucidating neurobiological processes underlying psychological vulnerability and resilience).

Selected Publications


(*student first author)

Patrick, C. J., & Bernat, E. M. (in press). Neuroscientific foundations of psychopathology. In: T. Millon, R. F. Krueger, & E. Simonsen (Eds.), Contemporary directions in psychopathology: Toward the DSM-V. New York: Guilford Press.

*Vaidyanathan, U., Patrick, C. J., & Cuthbert, B. N. (in press). Linking dimensional models of internalizing psychopathology to neurobiological systems: Affect-modulated startle as an indicator of fear and distress disorders and affiliated traits . Psychological Bulletin.

*Blonigen, D. M., Patrick, C. J., Douglas, K. S., Poythress, N. G., Skeem, J. L., Lilienfeld, S. O., Edens, J. F., & Krueger, R. F. (in press). Relations between factors of psychopathy and dimensions of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology: Clarifying the role of suppressor effects and method variance. Psychological Assessment.

Marsolek, C. J., Deason, R. G., Ketz, N. A., Ramanathan, P., Bernat, E., Steele, V. R., Patrick, C. J., Verfaillie, M., & Schnyer, D. M. (in press). Identifying objects impairs representations of other objects: A relearning explanation for the neural repetition effect. NeuroImage.

Hicks, B. M., Vaidyanathan, U., & Patrick (in press). Validating female psychopathy subtypes: Differences in personality, antisocial and violent behavior, substance abuse, trauma, and mental health. Personality Disorders Theory, Research, and Treatment.

Patrick, C. J., Fowles, D. C., & Krueger, R. F. (2009). Triarchic conceptualization of psychopathy: Developmental origins of disinhibition, boldness, and meanness. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 913-938.

Patrick, C. J., & Bernat, E. M. (2009). Neurobiology of psychopathy: A two-process theory. In: G. G. Berntson & J. T. Cacioppo (Eds.), Handbook of neuroscience for the behavioral sciences (pp. 1110-1131). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

*Vaidyanathan, U., Patrick, C. J., & Bernat, E. M. (2009). Startle reflex potentiation during aversive picture viewing as an index of trait fear. Psychophysiology, 46, 75-85.

*Jiang, Y., Shannon, R. W., Vizueta, N., Bernat, E. M., Patrick, C. J., & He, S. (2009). Dynamics of processing invisible faces in the brain: Automatic neural encoding of facial expression information. Neuroimage, 44, 1171-1177.

Patrick, C. J., & Bernat, E. M. (2009). From markers to mechanisms: Using psychophysiological measures to elucidate basic processes underlying aggressive externalizing behavior. In: S. Hodgins, E. Viding, & A. Plodowski (Eds.) , Persistent violent offenders: Neuroscience and rehabilitation (pp. 223-250). London: Oxford University Press.

Ross, S. R., Benning, S. D., Patrick, C. J., Thompson, A., & Thurston, A. (2009). Factors of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory: Criterion-related validity and relationship to the BIS/BAS and Five-Factor models of personality. Assessment, 16, 71-87.

*Fowler, K. A., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Patrick, C. J. (2009). Detecting psychopathy from thin slices of behavior. Psychological Assessment, 21, 68-78.

Patrick, C. J. (2008). Psychophysiological correlates of aggression and violence: An integrative review. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), 363, 2543-2555.

*van Mersbergen, M., Patrick, C. J., & Glaze, L. (2008). Functional dysphonia during mental imagery: Testing the trait theory of voice disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 51, 1405-1423.

*Seo, D., Patrick, C. J., & Kennealy, P. J. (2008). Role of serotonin and dopamine system interactions in the neurobiology of impulsive aggression and its comorbidity with other clinical disorders. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, 383-395.

Douglas, K. S., Lilienfeld, S. O., Skeem, J. L., Poythress, N. G., Edens, J. F., & Patrick, C. J. (2008). Relation of antisocial and psychopathic traits to suicide-related behavior among offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 32, 511-525,

Edens, J. F., Poythress, N. G., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Patrick, C. J. (2008). Further evidence of the divergent correlates of the psychopathic personality inventory factors: Prediction of prison misconduct. Psychological Assessment, 20, 86-91.

*Hall, J. R., Bernat, E. M., & Patrick, C. J. (2007). Externalizing psychopathology and the error-related negativity. Psychological Science, 18, 326-333.

Patrick, C. J., Hicks, B. M., Nichol, P. E., & Krueger, R. F. (2007). A bifactor approach to modeling the structure of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Journal of Personality Disorders, 21, 118-141.

Krueger, R. F., Markon, K.E., Patrick, C. J., Benning, S. D., & Kramer, M. (2007). Linking antisocial behavior, substance use, and personality: An integrative quantitative model of the adult externalizing spectrum . Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 116, 645-666.

*Hicks, B. M., Bernat, E. M., Malone, S. M., Iacono, W. G., Patrick, C. J., Krueger, R. F., & McGue, M. (2007). Genes mediate the association between P300 amplitude and externalizing psychopathology. Psychophysiology, 44, 98-105.

*Hicks, B. M., Blonigen, D. M., Iacono, W. G., Kramer, M., Krueger, R. F., McGue, M. K., & Patrick, C. J. (2007). Gender differences and developmental change in externalizing disorders from late adolescence to early adulthood: A longitudinal-twin study . Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 433-447.

*Donohue, K. F., Curtin, J. J., Patrick, C. J., & Lang, A. R. (2007). Intoxication level and emotional response. Emotion, 7, 103-112.

*Kennealy, P. J., Hicks, B. M., & Patrick, C. J. (2007). Validity of factors of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised in female prisoners: Discriminant relations with antisocial behavior, substance abuse, and personality. Assessment, 14, 323-340.

Patrick, C. J. (2006). Handbook of psychopathy. New York: Guilford Press.

Patrick, C. J., Bernat, E., Malone, S. M., Iacono, W. G., Krueger, R. F., & McGue, M. K. (2006). P300 amplitude as an indicator of externalizing in adolescent males . Psychophysiology, 43, 84-92.

Patrick, C. J., Edens, J. F., Poythress, N., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Benning, S. D. (2006). Construct validity of the PPI two-factor model with offenders. Psychological Assessment, 18, 204-208.

Bernat, E., Patrick, C. J., & Benning, S. D. (2006). Effects of picture content and intensity on affective physiological response . Psychophysiology, 43, 93-103.

*Hicks, B. M., & Patrick, C. J. (2006). Psychopathy and negative affectivity: Analyses of suppressor effects reveal distinct relations with trait anxiety, depression, fearfulness, and anger-hostility . Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 276-287.

Blonigen, D. M., Hicks, B. M., Krueger, R. F., Patrick, C. J., & Iacono, W. G. (2006). Continuity and change in psychopathic personality traits: A longitudinal-biometric study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 85-95.


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