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Facial expression recognition, fear conditioning, and startle modulation in female subjects with conduct disorder

Fairchild, Graeme, Stobbe, Yvette, Van Goozen, Stephanie Helena Maria, Calder, Andrew J. and Goodyer, Ian M. 2010. Facial expression recognition, fear conditioning, and startle modulation in female subjects with conduct disorder. Biological Psychiatry 68 (3) , pp. 272-279. 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.02.019

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Background Recent behavioral and psychophysiological studies have provided converging evidence for emotional dysfunction in conduct disorder (CD). Most of these studies focused on male subjects and little is known about emotional processing in female subjects with CD. Our primary aim was to characterize explicit and implicit aspects of emotion function to determine whether deficits in these processes are present in girls with CD. Methods Female adolescents with CD (n = 25) and control subjects with no history of severe antisocial behavior and no current psychiatric disorder (n = 30) completed tasks measuring facial expression and facial identity recognition, differential autonomic conditioning, and affective modulation of the startle reflex by picture valence. Results Compared with control subjects, participants with CD showed impaired recognition of anger and disgust but no differences in facial identity recognition. Impaired sadness recognition was observed in CD participants high in psychopathic traits relative to those lower in psychopathic traits. Participants with CD displayed reduced skin conductance responses to an aversive unconditioned stimulus and impaired autonomic discrimination between the conditioned stimuli, indicating impaired fear conditioning. Participants with CD also showed reduced startle magnitudes across picture valence types, but there were no significant group differences in the pattern of affective modulation. Conclusions Adolescent female subjects with CD exhibited deficits in explicit and implicit tests of emotion function and reduced autonomic responsiveness across different output systems. There were, however, no differences in emotional reactivity. These findings suggest that emotional recognition and learning are impaired in female subjects with CD, consistent with results previously obtained in male subjects with CD.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conduct disorder; emotion; face recognition; female; psychopathy
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0006-3223
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:52

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