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Inconsistent emotion recognition deficits across stimulus modalities in Huntington's disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Elin M. Rees, Ruth Farmer, James H. Cole, Susie M. D. Henley, Reiner Sprengelmeyer, Chris Frost, Rachael I. Scahill, Nicola Z. Hobbs, Sarah J. Tabrizi

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Abstract

Background: Recognition of negative emotions is impaired in Huntington's Disease (HD). It is unclear whether these emotion-specific problems are driven by dissociable cognitive deficits, emotion complexity, test cue difficulty, or visuoperceptual impairments. This study set out to further characterise emotion recognition in HD by comparing patterns of deficits across stimulus modalities; notably including for the first time in HD, the more ecologically and clinically relevant modality of film clips portraying dynamic facial expressions.

Methods: Fifteen early HD and 17 control participants were tested on emotion recognition from static facial photographs, non-verbal vocal expressions and one second dynamic film clips, all depicting different emotions.

Results: Statistically significant evidence of impairment of anger, disgust and fear recognition was seen in HD participants compared with healthy controls across multiple stimulus modalities. The extent of the impairment, as measured by the difference in the number of errors made between HD participants and controls, differed according to the combination of emotion and modality (p=0.013, interaction test). The largest between-group difference was seen in the recognition of anger from film clips.

Conclusions: Consistent with previous reports, anger, disgust and fear were the most poorly recognised emotions by the HD group. This impairment did not appear to be due to task demands or expression complexity as the pattern of between-group differences did not correspond to the pattern of errors made by either group; implicating emotion-specific cognitive processing pathology. There was however evidence that the extent of emotion recognition deficits significantly differed between stimulus modalities. The implications in terms of designing future tests of emotion recognition and care giving are discussed.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume64
Early online date22 Sep 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

    Research areas

  • Huntington's disease, Emotion, Differential deficits, Vocal expressions, Basic emotions, Gene-carriers, Disgust, Impairment, Perception, Ability, HD

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