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Does comorbid anxiety counteract emotion recognition deficits in conduct disorder?

Record type: Article

Background: Previous research has reported altered emotion recognition in both conduct disorder (CD) and anxiety disorders (ADs) – but these effects are of different kinds. Adolescents with CD often show a generalised pattern of deficits, while those with ADs show hypersensitivity to specific negative emotions. Although these conditions often co-occur, little is known regarding emotion recognition performance in comorbid CD+ADs. Here we test the hypothesis that in the comorbid case, anxiety-related emotion hypersensitivity counteracts the emotion recognition deficits typically observed in CD.

Method: We compared facial emotion recognition across four groups of adolescents aged 12-18 years: those with CD alone (n = 28), ADs alone (n = 23), co-occurring CD+ADs (n = 20) and typically-developing controls (n = 28). The emotion recognition task we used systematically manipulated the emotional intensity of facial expressions as well as fixation location (eye, nose or mouth region).

Results: CD was associated with a generalised impairment in emotion recognition, however this may have been modulated by group differences in IQ. AD was associated with increased sensitivity to low intensity happiness, disgust and sadness. In general, the comorbid CD+ADs group performed similarly to typically-developing controls.

Conclusions: Although CD alone was associated with emotion recognition impairments, ADs and comorbid CD+ADs were associated with normal or enhanced emotion recognition performance. The presence of comorbid ADs appeared to counteract the effects of CD, suggesting a potentially protective role, although future research should address the contribution of IQ and gender to these effects.

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Short, Roxanna, Sonuga-Barke, Edmund and Adams, Wendy et al. (2016) Does comorbid anxiety counteract emotion recognition deficits in conduct disorder? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, pp. 1-24.

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Accepted/In Press date: 1 January 2016
Keywords: conduct disorder, anxiety disorder, callous-unemotional traits, comorbidity, emotion recognition, response biases, social information processing
Organisations: Psychology


Local EPrints ID: 388452
ISSN: 0021-9630
PURE UUID: 90a99efe-cfe2-4e22-9b9e-466e020e051b
ORCID for Wendy Adams: ORCID iD
ORCID for Graeme Fairchild: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 25 Feb 2016 16:33
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:28

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Author: Roxanna Short
Author: Edmund Sonuga-Barke
Author: Wendy Adams ORCID iD
Author: Graeme Fairchild ORCID iD

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