Specificity of facial expression labeling deficits in childhood psychopathology

Authors

  • Amanda E. Guyer,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Erin B. McClure,

    1. Psychology Department, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
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  • Abby D. Adler,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Melissa A. Brotman,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Brendan A. Rich,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Alane S. Kimes,

    1. Neuroimaging Branch, National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), NIH, DHHS, Baltimore, MD, USA
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  • Daniel S. Pine,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Monique Ernst,

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Ellen Leibenluft

    1. Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Amanda E. Guyer, MAP/NIMH/NIH, 15K North Drive, Room 208, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670, USA; Tel: 301-594-1378; Fax: 301-402-2010; Email: amandaguyer@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Background:  We examined whether face-emotion labeling deficits are illness-specific or an epiphenomenon of generalized impairment in pediatric psychiatric disorders involving mood and behavioral dysregulation.

Method:  Two hundred fifty-two youths (7–18 years old) completed child and adult facial expression recognition subtests from the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy (DANVA) instrument. Forty-two participants had bipolar disorder (BD), 39 had severe mood dysregulation (SMD; i.e., chronic irritability, hyperarousal without manic episodes), 44 had anxiety and/or major depressive disorders (ANX/MDD), 35 had attention-deficit/hyperactivity and/or conduct disorder (ADHD/CD), and 92 were controls. Dependent measures were number of errors labeling happy, angry, sad, or fearful emotions.

Results:  BD and SMD patients made more errors than ANX/MDD, ADHD/CD, or controls when labeling adult or child emotional expressions. BD and SMD patients did not differ in their emotion-labeling deficits.

Conclusions:  Face-emotion labeling deficits differentiate BD and SMD patients from patients with ANX/MDD or ADHD/CD and controls. The extent to which such deficits cause vs. result from emotional dysregulation requires further study.

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