Marsh AA, RJR Blair. Deficits in facial affect recognition among antisocial populations: a meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 32: 454-465

National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (Impact Factor: 8.8). 02/2008; 32(3):454-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.08.003
Source: PubMed


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, Oct 02, 2015
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    • "Of the four ROIs, amygdala and AI did not show group differences at FWE-corrected levels (although the CP group as a whole showed reduced right AI volume at p < 0.001 uncorrected ; Table S1). This was somewhat surprising, since previous studies have found reduced volume of these regions in children and adolescents with CP (Fairchild et al. 2011; Sterzer et al. 2007), while several fMRI studies (including three based on a subset of the participants included in the current study) have found evidence for amygdala and/or AI hypoactivity during emotional processing in CP/HCU (Jones et al. 2009; Lockwood et al. 2013; Marsh et al. 2008; Sebastian et al. 2012; Viding et al. 2012). There is therefore strong evidence across imaging modalities for atypical amygdala and AI function in this group. "
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic, behavioural and functional neuroimaging studies have revealed that different vulnerabilities characterise children with conduct problems and high levels of callous-unemotional traits (CP/HCU) compared with children with conduct problems and low callous-unemotional traits (CP/LCU). We used voxel-based morphometry to study grey matter volume (GMV) in 89 male participants (aged 10-16), 60 of whom exhibited CP. The CP group was subdivided into CP/HCU (n = 29) and CP/LCU (n = 31). Whole-brain and regional GMV were compared across groups (CP vs. typically developing (TD) controls (n = 29); and CP/HCU vs. CP/LCU vs. TD). Whole-brain analyses showed reduced GMV in left middle frontal gyrus in the CP/HCU group compared with TD controls. Region-of-interest analyses showed reduced volume in bilateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in the CP group as a whole compared with TD controls. Reduced volume in left OFC was found to be driven by the CP/HCU group only, with significant reductions relative to both TD controls and the CP/LCU group, and no difference between these latter two groups. Within the CP group left OFC volume was significantly predicted by CU traits, but not conduct disorder symptoms. Reduced right anterior cingulate cortex volume was also found in CP/HCU compared with TD controls. Our results support previous findings indicating that GMV differences in brain regions central to decision-making and empathy are implicated in CP. However, they extend these data to suggest that some of these differences might specifically characterise the subgroup with CP/HCU, with GMV reduction in left OFC differentiating children with CP/HCU from those with CP/LCU.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 09/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10802-015-0073-0 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "As a result, it is critical to identify children with non-normative levels of CU traits early in development to inform preventive interventions. CU traits (i.e., callous/lack of empathy, lack of remorse/ guilt, shallow affect), which capture the emotional detachment dimension of psychopathy in adults, are linked with emotional hyporeactivity to fear-and empathy-evoking stimuli (i.e., pictures , words, facial expressions, vocal tones) (see Marsh and Blair 2008). Similar to adults high on the affective dimension of psychopathy, non-normative CU traits designate groups of antisocial children and adolescents showing reduced amygdala activation while processing fearful expressions (e.g., Viding "
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    ABSTRACT: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits designate an important subgroup of antisocial individuals at risk for early-starting, severe, and persistent conduct problems, but this construct has received limited attention among young children. The current study evaluated the factor structure, psychometric properties, and validity of scores on a comprehensive measure of CU traits, the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU), in relation to measures of antisocial/prosocial behavior and emotional processing, administered to preschool children. The sample included 214 boys (52 %) and girls (48 %, M age = 4.7, SD = 0.69) recruited from mainstream and high-risk preschools. Confirmatory factor analyses supported a two-factor structure including callous and uncaring dimensions from 12 of the 24 original ICU items. Scores on the parent- and teacher-reported ICU were internally consistent and combined CU scores showed expected associations with an alternate measure of CU traits and measures of empathy, prosocial behavior, conduct problems, and aggression. Preschool children high on CU traits were less accurate, relative to children scoring low, in recognizing facial expressions. They were also less attentionally engaged by images of others in distress when co-occurring conduct problems presented. Findings extend the literature by supporting the psychometric properties of the ICU among young children, and open several avenues for studying early precursors to this severe personality disturbance.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 09/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10802-015-0075-y · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    • "When facial emotion recognition ability is impaired, the individual may not benefit from receiving the potent and social behaviour-regulating reinforcers provided by the facial expressions of other people (Blair, 1995). In turn, the inability to receive guidance from this important social information may result in interpersonal functioning difficulties due to a reduced capacity to monitor the effect of one's behaviour on others and by a failure to modulate behaviour appropriately and in an interpersonally sensitive manner (Beer et al., 2003; Marsh & Blair, 2008). Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that facial expressions exhibited by others help generate negative self-conscious emotions (e.g., embarrassment, shame, and guilt) in individuals by helping them become aware that their behaviour is harmful or inappropriate and thus, transgressive (see Beer et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Shame and guilt are closely related self-conscious emotions of negative affect that give rise to divergent self-regulatory and motivational behaviours. While guilt-proneness has demonstrated positive relationships with self-report measures of empathy and adaptive interpersonal functioning, shame-proneness tends to be unrelated or inversely related to empathy and is associated with interpersonal difficulties. At present, no research has examined relationships between shame and guilt-proneness with facial emotion recognition ability. Participants (N = 363) completed measures of shame and guilt-proneness along with a facial emotion recognition task which assessed the ability to identify displays of anger, sadness, happiness, fear, disgust, and shame. Guilt-proneness was consistently positively associated with facial emotion recognition ability. In contrast, shame-proneness was unrelated to capacity for facial emotion recognition. Findings provide support for theory arguing that guilt and empathy operate synergistically and may also help explain the inverse relationship between guilt-proneness and propensity for aggressive behaviour.
    Cognition and Emotion 08/2015; DOI:10.1080/02699931.2015.1072497 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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