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Facial Emotion Recognition Abilities in Women Experiencing Eating Disorders


Abstract

OBJECTIVE:
Impairments in facial emotion recognition are an underlying factor of deficits in emotion regulation and interpersonal difficulties in mental disorders and are evident in eating disorders (EDs).
METHODS:
We used a computerized psychophysical paradigm to manipulate parametrically the quantity of signal in facial expressions of emotion (QUEST threshold seeking algorithm). This was used to measure emotion recognition in 308 adult women (anorexia nervosa [n = 61], bulimia nervosa [n = 58], healthy controls [n = 130], and mixed mental disorders [mixed, n = 59]). The M (SD) age was 22.84 (3.90) years. The aims were to establish recognition thresholds defining how much information a person needs to recognize a facial emotion expression and to identify deficits in EDs compared with healthy and clinical controls. The stimuli included six basic emotion expressions (fear, anger, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise), plus a neutral expression.
RESULTS:
Happiness was discriminated at the lowest, fear at the highest threshold by all groups. There were no differences regarding thresholds between groups, except for the mixed and the bulimia nervosa group with respect to the expression of disgust (F(3,302) = 5.97, p = .001, η = .056). Emotional clarity, ED pathology, and depressive symptoms did not predict performance (RChange ≤ .010, F(1,305) ≤ 5.74, p ≥ .079). The confusion matrix did not reveal specific biases in either group.
CONCLUSIONS:
Overall, within-subject effects were as expected, whereas between-subject effects were marginal and psychopathology did not influence emotion recognition. Facial emotion recognition abilities in women experiencing EDs compared with women experiencing mixed mental disorders and healthy controls were similar. Although basic facial emotion recognition processes seems to be intact, dysfunctional aspects such as misinterpretation might be important in emotion regulation problems.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:
Impairments in facial emotion recognition are an underlying factor of deficits in emotion regulation and interpersonal difficulties in mental disorders and are evident in eating disorders (EDs).
METHODS:
We used a computerized psychophysical paradigm to manipulate parametrically the quantity of signal in facial expressions of emotion (QUEST threshold seeking algorithm). This was used to measure emotion recognition in 308 adult women (anorexia nervosa [n = 61], bulimia nervosa [n = 58], healthy controls [n = 130], and mixed mental disorders [mixed, n = 59]). The M (SD) age was 22.84 (3.90) years. The aims were to establish recognition thresholds defining how much information a person needs to recognize a facial emotion expression and to identify deficits in EDs compared with healthy and clinical controls. The stimuli included six basic emotion expressions (fear, anger, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise), plus a neutral expression.
RESULTS:
Happiness was discriminated at the lowest, fear at the highest threshold by all groups. There were no differences regarding thresholds between groups, except for the mixed and the bulimia nervosa group with respect to the expression of disgust (F(3,302) = 5.97, p = .001, η = .056). Emotional clarity, ED pathology, and depressive symptoms did not predict performance (RChange ≤ .010, F(1,305) ≤ 5.74, p ≥ .079). The confusion matrix did not reveal specific biases in either group.
CONCLUSIONS:
Overall, within-subject effects were as expected, whereas between-subject effects were marginal and psychopathology did not influence emotion recognition. Facial emotion recognition abilities in women experiencing EDs compared with women experiencing mixed mental disorders and healthy controls were similar. Although basic facial emotion recognition processes seems to be intact, dysfunctional aspects such as misinterpretation might be important in emotion regulation problems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Klinik für Konsiliarpsychiatrie und Psychosomatik
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, Psychiatry and Mental health
Language:English
Date:1 January 2019
Deposited On:15 Mar 2019 12:47
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:26
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0033-3174
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0000000000000664
PubMed ID:30702549

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