Deficits in facial expression recognition in male adolescents with early-onset or adolescent-onset conduct disorder

Developmental Psychiatry Section, Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 06/2009; 50(5):627-36. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.02020.x
Source: PubMed


We examined whether conduct disorder (CD) is associated with deficits in facial expression recognition and, if so, whether these deficits are specific to the early-onset form of CD, which emerges in childhood. The findings could potentially inform the developmental taxonomic theory of antisocial behaviour, which suggests that early-onset and adolescence-limited forms of CD are subject to different aetiological processes.
Male adolescents with either early-onset CD (n = 42) or adolescence-onset CD (n = 39), and controls with no history of serious antisocial behaviour and no current psychiatric disorder (n = 40) completed tests of facial expression and facial identity recognition. Dependent measures were: (a) correct recognition of facial expressions of anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise, and (b) the number of correct matches of unfamiliar faces.
Relative to controls, recognition of anger, disgust, and happiness in facial expressions was disproportionately impaired in participants with early-onset CD, whereas recognition of fear was impaired in participants with adolescence-onset CD. Participants with CD who were high in psychopathic traits showed impaired fear, sadness, and surprise recognition relative to those low in psychopathic traits. There were no group differences in facial identity recognition.
Both CD subtypes were associated with impairments in facial recognition, although these were more marked in the early-onset subgroup. Variation in psychopathic traits appeared to exert an additional influence on the recognition of fear, sadness and surprise. Implications of these data for the developmental taxonomic theory of antisocial behaviour are discussed.

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    • "Also, in our recent study, youths with CD showed altered hemodynamic activity in the amygdala, cuneus, lingual gyrus, insula and thalamus in the resting state (Zhou et al. 2015). On the other hand, youths with CD have also been found to show impairments in emotion recognition and related processes, such as empathy, emotion recognition, and emotion control (Woodworth and Waschbusch 2008; Fairchild et al. 2009; Schwenck et al. 2012), which may result from the dysfunction of diverse neural circuits (Blair 2013). Therefore, investigating the activity and functional connectivity of the DMN may shed light on the neurobiological processes underlying these affective and social impairments. "
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    ABSTRACT: Conduct disorder (CD) is a serious behavioral disorder of childhood and adolescence. The default mode network (DMN) is a brain network which supports self-referential cognitive processes and is typically deactivated during task performance. The aim of this study was to investigate DMN connectivity in male adolescents with pure CD compared to typically-developing controls. Eighteen male adolescents with CD and 18 sex-, age- and education-matched typically-developing (TD) participants were recruited. Current and lifetime psychiatric disorders were assessed using the Chinese version of the Schedule for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were obtained using a 3.0 T scanner. Independent components analysis (ICA) was used to investigate functional connectivity between the DMN and related brain regions. DMN activity was observed in medial prefrontal, posterior cingulate, and lateral parietal cortices, and extended to the brainstem. Adolescents with CD showed significantly reduced functional connectivity within the bilateral posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), bilateral precuneus and right superior temporal gyrus relative to TD controls. CD is associated with reduced functional connectivity within the DMN and between the DMN and other regions. These preliminary results suggest that deficits in DMN functional connectivity may serve as a biomarker of CD.
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    • "Running from left to right, the columns show 90%-10%, 70%-30%, 50%-50%, 30%-70%, and 10%-90% morphs along each continuum. One facial stimulus was presented in each trial and the 50%-50% morphs were not scored (reproduced with permission fromFairchild et al. (2009), Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, p. 630;Copyright ACAMH, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: There is accumulating evidence of impairments in facial emotion recognition in adolescents with conduct disorder (CD). However, the majority of studies in this area have only been able to demonstrate an association, rather than a causal link, between emotion recognition deficits and CD. To move closer towards understanding the causal pathways linking emotion recognition problems with CD, we studied emotion recognition in the unaffected first-degree relatives of CD probands, as well as those with a diagnosis of CD. Method Using a family-based design, we investigated facial emotion recognition in probands with CD (n��=��43), their unaffected relatives (n��=��21), and healthy controls (n��=��38). We used the Emotion Hexagon task, an alternative forced-choice task using morphed facial expressions depicting the six primary emotions, to assess facial emotion recognition accuracy. Relative to controls, the CD group showed impaired recognition of anger, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise (all p��<��0.005). Similar to probands with CD, unaffected relatives showed deficits in anger and happiness recognition relative to controls (all p��<��0.008), with a trend toward a deficit in fear recognition. There were no significant differences in performance between the CD probands and the unaffected relatives following correction for multiple comparisons. These results suggest that facial emotion recognition deficits are present in adolescents who are at increased familial risk for developing antisocial behaviour, as well as those who have already developed CD. Consequently, impaired emotion recognition appears to be a viable familial risk marker or candidate endophenotype for CD.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Psychological Medicine
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    • "Children with CP and high levels of CU traits (CP/HCU) are more genetically vulnerable to develop CP, have more CP, show more severe levels of aggression, and have a poorer prognosis than children with CP who have low levels of CU traits (CP/LCU) (Viding et al., 2005; Frick and Viding, 2009). The current evidence base indicates that CP/HCU display impaired recognition of fearful (and in some cases sad) faces, vocal tones, and body poses, as well as reduced psychophysiological reactivity to distressing and threatening images (Blair, 1999; Blair et al., 2001, 2005; Dadds et al., 2006; Fairchild et al., 2009; Munoz, 2009). In contrast, some studies have reported that children with CP/LCU incorrectly categorize neutral faces as being angry and make hostile attribution biases in vignette-based neutral stories (e.g., Cadesky et al., 2000; Frick et al., 2003; Dadds et al., 2006). "
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