Deficits in facial affect recognition among antisocial populations: A meta-analysis

National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (Impact Factor: 10.28). 02/2008; 32(3):454-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.08.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Individuals with disorders marked by antisocial behavior frequently show deficits in recognizing displays of facial affect. Antisociality may be associated with specific deficits in identifying fearful expressions, which would implicate dysfunction in neural structures that subserve fearful expression processing. A meta-analysis of 20 studies was conducted to assess: (a) if antisocial populations show any consistent deficits in recognizing six emotional expressions; (b) beyond any generalized impairment, whether specific fear recognition deficits are apparent; and (c) if deficits in fear recognition are a function of task difficulty. Results show a robust link between antisocial behavior and specific deficits in recognizing fearful expressions. This impairment cannot be attributed solely to task difficulty. These results suggest dysfunction among antisocial individuals in specified neural substrates, namely the amygdala, involved in processing fearful facial affect.

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Available from: Abigail A Marsh, Jul 29, 2015
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    • "We tested emotion understanding as a general index of emotion processing across the basic emotions . Although a meta-analysis conducted by Marsh and Blair (2008) reported significant deficits specifically for fearful faces within antisocial samples, a recent meta-analysis with community and clinical samples showed deficits across both positive and negative emotions, suggestive of a general rather than specific emotion processing impairment (Dawel , O'Kearney, McKone, & Palermo, 2012). In contrast to CU traits, we expected impulsivity/ irresponsibility to be associated with early appropriate mind-related comments indirectly via ToM. "
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    ABSTRACT: Problems in understanding other people's mental states may relate to distinct personality traits that are associated with early externalizing behavior. A distinction between theory of mind (ToM) and empathy has proven important in shedding light on the problems in understanding other minds encountered by children high on callous-unemotional (CU) traits and exhibiting impulsivity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether children's early ToM and emotion understanding abilities predicted CU traits and impulsivity at age 10. A further aim was to explore whether the quality of the parent-child relationship very early in the development indirectly or directly predicted the children's CU traits and impulsivity. We examined whether ToM and empathy skills might differentially relate to personality traits associated with externalizing behaviors (i.e., impulsivity and CU traits). We examined these relations over time in a longitudinal cohort of 96 boys and girls using follow-back analyses, incorporating measures of maternal mind-mindedness (appropriate mind-related talk) to examine the possible role of parent-child interaction quality. Appropriate mind-related talk indirectly predicted CU traits (at age 10 years) via its effect on children's emotion understanding. ToM predicted impulsive/irresponsible traits, but ceased to be significant when controlling for externalizing behaviors. The present findings demonstrate that parents who remark appropriately on their infant's mental states may help the child to understand emotions and may mold an empathic understanding of others, thereby preventing CU traits. © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 07/2015; DOI:10.1111/jcpp.12445 · 5.67 Impact Factor
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    • "In support of problematic social - cognitive functioning in antisocial populations , a meta - analysis by Marsh and Blair ( 2008 ) found a specific impairment in fearful expression recognition among instrumentally violent populations . Similarly , Hoaken et al . "
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    ABSTRACT: Researchwithviolentoffendershasconsistentlyshownimpairedrecognitionofother’sfacialexpressionsofemotion.However,theextenttowhichsimilarproblemscanbeobservedamongsexualoffendersremainsunknown.Usingacomputerizedtask,wepresentedsexualandviolentoffenders,andnon-offenders,withmaleandfemaleexpressionsofanger,disgust,fear,happiness,sadness,andsurprise,morphedwithneutralexpressionsatvaryinglevelsofintensity(10,55,and90%expressive).Basedonsignaldetectiontheory,weusedhitratesandfalsealarmstocalculatethesensitivityindexd-prime(d�)andcriterion(c)foreachemotionalexpression.Overall,sexualoffendersshowedreducedsensitivitytoemotionalexpressionsacrossintensity,sex,andtypeofexpression,comparedwithnon-offenders,whilebothsexualandviolentoffendersshowedparticularreducedsensitivitytofearfulexpressions.Wealsoobservedspecificeffectsforhigh(90%)intensityfemalefaces,withsexualoffendersshowingreducedsensitivitytoangercomparedwithnon-offendersandviolentoffenders,andreducedsensitivitytodisgustcomparedwithnon-offenders.Furthermore,bothsexualandviolentoffendersshowedimpairedsensitivitytohighintensityfemalefearfulexpressionscomparedwithnon-offenders.Violentoffendersalsoshowedahighercriterionforclassifyingmoderateandhighintensitymaleexpressionsasfearful,indicativeofamoreconservativeresponsestyle,comparedwithangry,happy,orsad.Theseresultssuggestthatbothtypesofoffendershowproblemsinemotionrecognition,andmayhaveimplicationsforunderstandingtheinhibitionofviolentandsexuallyviolentbehaviors.
    Frontiers in Psychology 05/2015; DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00595 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Although the overall results provide good support for differentiating the cognitive-affective dysfunctions of psychopathic and externalizing offenders, this study is not without its limitations. First, because of theoretical relevance and task demands the present study used fear, anger, and happy affective expressions; however , some research indicates that other negative affective expressions , such as sadness, may be particularly important for some forms of disinhibited behavior (Marsh & Blair, 2008). An important avenue for future research may be to explore such differential effects. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite similarity in their disinhibited behaviors, the cognitive-affective mechanisms that characterize psychopathy and externalizing are relatively distinct. One theoretical perspective suggests that, psychopathy is associated with an early attention bottleneck that precludes the processing of contextual information, leading to a rigid goal-directed focus. Alternatively, externalizing may be associated with an over-allocation of processing resources to motivationally-salient information, which disrupts the use of cognitive control. In this study, male prisoners assessed on psychopathic and externalizing traits performed a new gaze detection task involving affective faces. As predicted, psychopathy but not externalizing was associated with superior performance on the gaze-detection task when the necessity of using contextual affect to regulate goal-directed behavior was minimized. Conversely, externalizing but not psychopathy was associated with increased errors on trials that required participants to use affective expressions, specifically fear, as a cue to inhibit dominant responses. These results have theoretical and applied significance for both psychopathic and externalizing forms of disinhibition. Recognition and utilization of facial affect are important for socialization and interpersonal interactions, therefore, any cognitive-affective processes that interrupt the fluency with which this information is processed may be important for understanding the underpinnings of disinhibition.
    Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment 10/2014; 5(4). DOI:10.1037/per0000077 · 3.54 Impact Factor
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