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Can facial emotion recognition be rapidly improved in children with disruptive behavior? A targeted and preventative early intervention study

Hunnikin, Laura M., Wells, Amy E., Ash, Daniel P. and van Goozen, Stephanie ORCID: 2022. Can facial emotion recognition be rapidly improved in children with disruptive behavior? A targeted and preventative early intervention study. Development and Psychopathology 34 (1) , pp. 85-93. 10.1017/S0954579420001091

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An impairment in recognizing distress is implicated in the development and severity of antisocial behavior. Ithasbeenhypothesizedthatalackofattentiontotheeyesplaysarolebutsupportingevidenceislimited.We developed a computerized training to improve emotion recognition in children and examined the role of eye gaze before and after training. Children referred into an intervention program to preventantisocial outcomescompleted anemotion recognition task with concurrent eye tracking. Those with emotion recognition impairments (n= 54, mean age: 8.72 years, 78% male) completed the training, while others (n= 38, mean age: 8.95 years, 84% male) continued with their usual interventions. Emotion recognition and eye gaze were reassessed in all children 8 weeks later. Impairednegativeemotionrecognitionwassignificantlyrelatedtoseverityofbehavioralproblemsatpre-test.Children who completed the training significantly improved in emotion recognition; eye gaze did not contribute to impairment or improvement in emotion recognition. This study confirms the role of emotion recognition in severity of disruptive behavior and shows that a targetedintervention can quickly improve emotion impairments. The training works by improving children’s ability to appraise emotional stimuliratherthan by influencing their visual attention.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This article was (co-)authored by Cardiff NDAU researchers
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0954-5794
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 7 July 2020
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2023 19:06

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