Implicit and explicit behavioral tendencies in male and female depression

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.47). 03/2010; 177(1-2):124-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2010.02.001
Source: PubMed


Emotional facial expressions are the most salient cues in social life. Successful social interaction is based on correct recognition, interpretation and appropriate reaction to these cues. However, social skill deficits are among the most debilitating symptoms of depression, leading to social withdrawal and aggravating the disorder in various domains. We used an implicit joystick task to measure automatic behavioral tendencies in response to evoked facial expressions (anger, fear, sadness, happiness and neutral). Additionally, we implemented a rating procedure to assess explicit approach and avoidance reactions to these social stimuli. Our sample consisted of 24 depressed patients and 24 healthy controls. Data analysis indicated that depressed patients appear to understand the expression depicted on the emotional faces but react differently to these social cues. Female patients displayed stronger avoidance tendencies in the explicit condition whereas social withdrawal was less pronounced in the implicit condition. Our data suggest that a cognitive bias negatively influences the unimpaired automatic reactions to emotional expressions in depressed patients, and this bias may result in the characteristic social withdrawal.

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    • "It is thus very likely that symptoms of patients with TRD result from an alteration of affective processing (Thoma et al. 2011). A consequence is social withdrawal, problems in social functioning, and avoidance behavior in depressive patients (Seidel et al. 2010). It is conceivable that impaired empathy might constitute 1 main mechanism conveying these biased cognitive and emotional processes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising approach in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD is associated with problems in interpersonal relationships, which might be linked to impaired empathy. Here, we investigate the influence of DBS in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) on empathy in patients with TRD and explore the pattern of oscillatory sgACC activity during performance of the multifaceted empathy test. We recorded local field potential activity directly from sgACC via DBS electrodes in patients. Based on previous behavioral findings, we expected disrupted empathy networks. Patients showed increased empathic involvement ratings toward negative stimuli as compared with healthy subjects that were significantly reduced after 6 months of DBS. Stimulus-related oscillatory activity pattern revealed a broad desynchronization in the beta (14-35 Hz) band that was significantly larger during patients' reported emotional empathy for negative stimuli than when patients reported to have no empathy. Beta desynchronization for empathic involvement correlated with self-reported severity of depression. Our results indicate a "negativity bias" in patients that can be reduced by DBS. Moreover, direct recordings show activation of the sgACC area during emotional processing and propose that changes in beta-band oscillatory activity in the sgACC might index empathic involvement of negative emotion in TRD. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:
    Cerebral Cortex 05/2015; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhv100 · 8.67 Impact Factor
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    • "ed afterwards participants indicated a wish to avoid them . Overall , approach / avoidance tasks may better distinguish between people than facial emotion recognition tasks . For example , by assessing facial expression - elicited approach and avoidance in individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disorders ( e . g . , Heuer , Rinck & Becker , 2007 ; Seidel , Habel , Finkelmeyer et al . , 2010 ; Von Borries et al . , 2012 ) , differentiation between disorders characterized by similar facial emotion recognition deficits might be improved . The finding that angry others may be approached rather than avoided ( Wilkowski & Meier , 2010 ) is consistent with a study in which participants reported quarrelsomeness during social inter"
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    ABSTRACT: Facial emotions are important for human communication. Unfortunately, traditional facial emotion recognition tasks do not inform about how respondents might behave towards others expressing certain emotions. Approach-avoidance tasks do measure behaviour, but only on one dimension. In this study 81 participants completed a novel Facial Emotion Response Task. Images displaying individuals with emotional expressions were presented in random order. Participants simultaneously indicated how communal (quarrelsome vs. agreeable) and how agentic (dominant vs. submissive) they would be in response to each expression. We found that participants responded differently to happy, angry, fearful, and sad expressions in terms of both dimensions of behaviour. Higher levels of negative affect were associated with less agreeable responses specifically towards happy and sad expressions. The Facial Emotion Response Task might complement existing facial emotion recognition and approach-avoidance tasks.
    British Journal of Psychology 05/2014; 105(2):173-86. DOI:10.1111/bjop.12029 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    • "For some studies (Phaf and Rotteveel, 2009; Seidel et al., 2010a,b), r could be computed from the raw data and compared to estimations derived from the test-statistics. The estimations turned out to be fairly accurate, validating the use of the above formulas . "
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    ABSTRACT: Approach action tendencies towards positive stimuli and avoidance tendencies from negative 3 stimuli are widely seen to foster survival. Many studies have shown that approach and 4 avoidance arm movements are facilitated by positive and negative affect, respectively. There is 5 considerable debate whether positively and negatively valenced stimuli prime approach and 6 avoidance movements directly (i.e., immediate, unintentional, implicit, automatic, and stimulus- 7 based), or indirectly (i.e., after conscious or nonconscious interpretation of the situation). The 8 direction and size of these effects were often found to depend on the instructions referring to the 9 stimulus object or the self, and on explicit vs. implicit stimulus evaluation. We present a meta- 10 analysis of 29 studies included for their use of strongly positive and negative stimuli, with 81 11 effect sizes derived solely from the means and standard deviations (combined N = 1538), to 12 examine the automaticity of the link between affective information processing and approach and 13 avoidance, and to test whether it depends on instruction, type of approach-avoidance task, and 14 stimulus type. Results show a significant small to medium-sized effect after correction for 15 publication bias. The strongest arguments for an indirect link between affect and approach- 16 avoidance were the absence of evidence for an effect with implicit evaluation, and the opposite 17 directions of the effect with self and object-related interpretations. The link appears to be 18 influenced by conscious or nonconscious intentions to deal with affective stimuli.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2014; 5:378. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00378 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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