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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    • "However, other studies have indeed found that subjective evaluations of fear stimuli do differ as a function of psychopathic traits (e.g. Birbaumer et al., 2005; Marsh & Blair, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychopathy is characterized by emotional and interpersonal dysfunction, an erratic lifestyle and antisocial behaviour. Research suggests that psychopaths lack fear (Fowles & Dindo, 2009; Lykken, 1995). Accordingly research demonstrates that psychopathy is associated with impaired fear acquisition/conditioning (Lopez et al., 2013), diminished fear-potentiated startle, (Patrick et al., 1993) and atypical physiological responses to fear-provoking stimuli (Benning et al., 2005). While one possible explanation is a lack of fear, another would be that psychopaths simply have a different interpretation of fear. The current study examined whether psychopathic traits are associated with positive experience and appraisal of fear-inducing situations. A sample of 114 students completed the SRP-III (Paulhus et al., 2015), described their own experience of fear (affective and physiological symptoms), and rated the extent to which they experienced positive and negative emotions in response to an excitement-inducing and a fear-inducing video stimulus. After viewing the “fear” video, people scoring higher on psychopathy gave higher ratings to positive affect items, and lower ratings to negative affect items. Further, when asked to define fear, individuals with psychopathic traits listed more positive descriptors of emotional and physiological experiences of fear. Findings provide preliminary support for the Fear Enjoyment Hypothesis.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    • "Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) has been suggested to be associated with impairments in facial emotion perception. A metaanalysis (Marsh and Blair, 2008) concluded that people with features of ASPD have difficulty in processing facial emotions, in particular the emotion of " fear " . Notably, many studies included in Marsh and Blair (2008)′s meta-analysis had recruited people with history of aggression and criminality but did not have a DSM-IV diagnosis of ASPD. "
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    ABSTRACT: Impairment in facial emotion perception is believed to be associated with aggression. Schizophrenia patients with antisocial features are more impaired in facial emotion perception than their counterparts without these features. However, previous studies did not define the comorbidity of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) using stringent criteria. We recruited 30 participants with dual diagnoses of ASPD and schizophrenia, 30 participants with schizophrenia and 30 controls. We employed the Facial Emotional Recognition paradigm to measure facial emotion perception, and administered a battery of neurocognitive tests. The Life History of Aggression scale was used. ANOVAs and ANCOVAs were conducted to examine group differences in facial emotion perception, and control for the effect of other neurocognitive dysfunctions on facial emotion perception. Correlational analyses were conducted to examine the association between facial emotion perception and aggression. Patients with dual diagnoses performed worst in facial emotion perception among the three groups. The group differences in facial emotion perception remained significant, even after other neurocognitive impairments were controlled for. Severity of aggression was correlated with impairment in perceiving negative-valenced facial emotions in patients with dual diagnoses. Our findings support the presence of facial emotion perception impairment and its association with aggression in schizophrenia patients with comorbid ASPD.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Psychiatry Research
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    • "Importantly, fear recognition can be improved in children with CU when they are instructed to orient their attention toward the eyes of others (Dadds et al., 2006). In addition, neuroimaging studies have found that youths with CD/CU+ display a decreased amygdala response to fearful expressions (Jones, Laurens, Herba, Barker, & Viding, 2009; Marsh et al., 2008). Studies that focused on affective aspects of empathy in ASD and CD/CU+ seem to suggest that there are difficulties especially in CD/CU+ and less so in ASD. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Deficits in empathy are reported in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and also underlie antisocial behavior of individuals with conduct disorder and callous-unemotional traits (CD/CU+). Many studies suggest that individuals with ASD are typically impaired in cognitive aspects of empathy, and individuals with CD/CU+ typically in affective aspects. In the current study, we compared the neural correlates of cognitive and affective aspects of empathy between youth with ASD and youth with CD/CU+. Methods Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to assess boys with ASD (N = 23), boys with CD/CU+ (N = 23), and typically developing (TD) boys (N = 33), aged 15–19 years. Angry and fearful faces were presented and participants were asked to either infer the emotional state from the face (other-task; emotion recognition) or to judge their own emotional response to the face (self-task; emotional resonance). Results During emotion recognition, boys with ASD showed reduced responses compared to the other groups in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). During emotional resonance, the CD/CU+ and ASD groups showed reduced amygdala responses compared to the TD controls, boys with ASD showed reduced responses in bilateral hippocampus, and the CD/CU+ boys showed reduced responses in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and anterior insula (AI). Conclusion Results suggest differential abnormal brain responses associated with specific aspects of empathic functioning in ASD and CD/CU+. Decreased amygdala responses in ASD and CD/CU+ might point to impaired emotion processing in both disorders, whereas reduced vmPFC responses suggest problems in processing cognitive aspects of empathy in ASD. Reduced IFG/AI responses, finally, suggest decreased emotional resonance in CD/CU+.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
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