Current Research Priorities

Additional Research Priorities


CANdiLab researchers are engaged in a variety of additional research studies that combine a variety of available psychological and neuroscientific methods, including:

  • Detailed personality assessments

  • Detailed clinical/forensic assessments

  • Cognitive/Affective assessments

  • Psychophysiological measures: HR, GSR, EMG

  • Neural measures: sMRI, fMRI, [fNIRS coming soon]

  • Neurostimulation protocols: tDCS

  • Facial affect analysis: AI-based FACS analyses

Isolating Neural Features of Antisociality from those of Substance Use Disorders


By some accounts, as many as 93% of individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) or psychopathy also meet criteria for some form of substance use disorder (SUD). This high comorbidity makes it very difficult for researchers to delineate the shared/unique features associated with each disorder.


With these difficulties in mind, one of CANdiLab’s core priorities is to distinguish neural features that are most associated with psychopathy from those that are most associated with history/severity of substance use. Simard, Denomme and Shane (2019) demonstrated that instability in resting-stating network connectivity was more closely associated with substance use history than with their level of psychopathic traits. In contrast, Denomme, Simard & Shane (2018) demonstrated that sensitivity to reward cues was more associated with level of psychopathic traits than  the severity of substance use history.


Currently, we're exploring more computational approaches to isolating the neural features of antisociality from those of substance use (see Denomme & Shane (2021).


Click here for more information on this line of work.

Virtuous versus Nonvirtuous Empathy


Empathy – feeling of what another person feels – is commonly defined in virtuous terms.However, there are many less virtuous reasons for wanting to share the feelings of another: to influence, to manage, to mediate, to manipulate (see Bloom, 2017).


CANdiLab researchers are utilizing both psychological and neuroscientific methods to evaluate the emergence of empathy for non-virtuous motives. Carrington, Groat & Shane (2021) demonstrated that people will engage in empathy for either virtuous or non-virtuous reasons. And Stewart and Shane (in prep) have found that individuals with heightened psychopathic traits will adjust their empathic strategies as a function of the power dynamics in their situation. 


We plan to report on the first study to compare the neural underpinnings of virtuous and non-virtuous empathy in mid-2024. 


Click here for more information on this line of work.

Can Psychopathic Individuals Feel Emotions?


One of the most consistent findings in research on psychopathic individuals is that they are less reactive to negative/punishing information. 


There is an important distinction between can’t and don’t, however - existing research consistently indicates that psychopaths don't manifest normal responses to emotional stimuli, however, it does not necessarily indicate that they cannot do so. 


A major focus of work in the lab thus focuses on this distinction between ‘can’t’ and ‘don’t’. Groat & Shane (2018) showed that when explicitly asked to maximize their brain's response to emotional stimuli, psychopathic individuals showed an ability to do so (see also Arbuckle & Shane, 2017). Thus, psychopathic individuals may be capable of processing negatively-valent information, even if rarely do so. 


Click here for more information on this line of work.

CANdiLab is the Clinical Affective Neuroscience Laboratory for Discovery and Innovation at Ontario Tech University