Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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

School/Research organisations


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.



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

    Research areas

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

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The neuropsychology of first impressions: evidence from Huntington’s disease

    Sprengelmeyer, R. H., Young, A. W., Baldas, E-M., Ratheiser, I., Sutherland, C. A. M., Müller, H-P., Grön, G., Süssmuth, S. D., Landwehrmeyer, G. B. & Orth, M., Dec 2016, In : Cortex. 85, p. 100-115 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A causal role for the anterior mid-cingulate cortex in negative affect and cognitive control

    Tolomeo, S., Christmas, D., Jentzsch, I., Johnston, B., Sprengelmeyer, R., Matthews, K. & Steele, J. D., Jun 2016, In : Brain. 139, 6, p. 1844-1854 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Longitudinal diffusion tensor imaging shows progressive changes in white matter in Huntington’s disease

    Gregory, S., Cole, J. H., Farmer, R. E., Rees, E. M., Roos, R. A. C., Sprengelmeyer, R. H., Duerr, A., Landwehrmeyer, B., Zhang, H., Scahill, R. I., Tabrizi, S. J., Frost, C. & Hobbs, N. Z., 2015, In : Journal of Huntington's Disease. 4, 4, p. 333-346

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Short-interval observational data to inform clinical trial design in early Huntington’s Disease

    Hobbs, N. Z., Farmer, R. E., Rees, E. M., Cole, J. H., Haider, S., Malone, I. B., Sprengelmeyer, R. H., Johnson, H., Mueller, H-P., Sussmuth, S. D., Roos, R. A. C., Durr, A., Frost, C., Scahill, R. I., Landwehrmeyer, B. & Tabrizi, S. J., 2015, In : Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Visual system integrity and cognition in early Huntington's disease

    Wolf, R. C., Sambataro, F., Vasic, N., Baldas, E-M., Ratheiser, I., Landwehrmeyer, G. B., Depping, M. S., Thomann, P. A., Sprengelmeyer, R. H., Süssmuth, S. S. & Orth, M., Jul 2014, In : European Journal of Neuroscience. 40, 2, p. 2417–2426 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Dissociating neural activity associated with the subjective phenomenology of monocular stereopsis: an EEG study

    Uji, M., Jentzsch, I., Redburn, J. & Vishwanath, D., Jun 2019, In : Neuropsychologia. 129, p. 357-371

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Distorted gaze direction input to the attentional priority map in spatial neglect

    Balslev, D. & Odoj, B., Aug 2019, In : Neuropsychologia. 131, p. 119-128 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Elements of person knowledge: Episodic recollection helps us to identify people but not to recognize their faces

    MacKenzie, G. & Donaldson, D. I., 1 Dec 2016, In : Neuropsychologia. 93, A, p. 218-228 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Improved effectiveness of performance monitoring in amateur instrumental musicians

    Jentzsch, I., Mkrtchian, A. & Kansal, N., Jan 2014, In : Neuropsychologia. 52, p. 117-124 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 161202258