Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Impaired neuropsychological and cognitive functioning are well-understood to be risk factors for antisocial behavior. There are, however, gaps in our knowledge of the etiology and effective treatment of neuropsychological and cognitive deficits. My dissertation examines these questions in a series of three papers. The first paper proposes a serial mediation model wherein neighborhood disadvantage and subsequent impaired neuropsychological functioning represent a partial explanation of the race-antisocial behavior relationship. In a community sample of male and female young adolescents, the hypothesized sequential path accounted for 10.8% of the relationship between race and antisocial behavior. The second paper examines the relationship between sleep and antisocial behavior, which has primarily been examined via correlational or extreme sleep deprivation studies. Using National Incidence-Based Reporting System and city-reported data, this paper exploits the natural experiment of daylight saving time (DST) to examine the effects of a very mild change in sleep on assault rates. The Monday directly following the advent of DST was associated with 3% fewer assaults as compared to the Monday a week later, which we hypothesize may be the result of fatigue. In contrast, we saw 3% more assaults following the return to standard time. The final paper examines a sample of incarcerated male adolescents longitudinally to test whether incarceration results in impaired cognition, and if so, whether a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Mindfulness intervention can protect against such impairments. Performance on three measures derived from an emotional go/no-go task significantly worsened from baseline to follow-up, however, two marginally significant time x group interactions suggest mindfulness may be potentially effective in buffering the adverse effects of imprisonment. While many scholars have postulated about adverse psychological effects of incarceration, this is one of the first papers to empirically document such effects. In totality, the proposed dissertation is intended to improve our understanding of the association between cognition and antisocial behavior through examining external and environmental influences on the brain. From a theoretical perspective, findings highlight the need to explore environmental correlates of neuropsychological and cognitive deficits. From an applied and policy perspective, findings indicate potential avenues for individual-level treatment that may positively impact behavior.
Umbach, Rebecca Hana, "Etiology And Treatment Of Neuropsychological And Cognitive Deficits In Relation To Antisocial Behavior" (2018). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 2960.