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Does comorbid anxiety counteract emotion recognition deficits in conduct disorder?



Does comorbid anxiety counteract emotion recognition deficits in conduct disorder?



Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 57(8): 917-926



Previous research has reported altered emotion recognition in both conduct disorder (CD) and anxiety disorders (ADs) - but these effects appear to be of different kinds. Adolescents with CD often show a generalised pattern of deficits, while those with ADs show hypersensitivity to specific negative emotions. Although these conditions often cooccur, little is known regarding emotion recognition performance in comorbid CD+ADs. Here, we test the hypothesis that in the comorbid case, anxiety-related emotion hypersensitivity counteracts the emotion recognition deficits typically observed in CD. We compared facial emotion recognition across four groups of adolescents aged 12-18 years: those with CD alone (n = 28), ADs alone (n = 23), cooccurring CD+ADs (n = 20) and typically developing controls (n = 28). The emotion recognition task we used systematically manipulated the emotional intensity of facial expressions as well as fixation location (eye, nose or mouth region). Conduct disorder was associated with a generalised impairment in emotion recognition; however, this may have been modulated by group differences in IQ. AD was associated with increased sensitivity to low-intensity happiness, disgust and sadness. In general, the comorbid CD+ADs group performed similarly to typically developing controls. Although CD alone was associated with emotion recognition impairments, ADs and comorbid CD+ADs were associated with normal or enhanced emotion recognition performance. The presence of comorbid ADs appeared to counteract the effects of CD, suggesting a potentially protective role, although future research should examine the contribution of IQ and gender to these effects.

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Accession: 057652066

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26934047

DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12544


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