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Journal Article


Maurage P, Campanella S, Philippot P, Martin SL, de Timary P. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 2008; 32(4): 600-606.


Cognitive Neurosciences and Clinical Psychology Research units, Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


(Copyright © 2008, John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: It is well established that chronic alcoholism is associated with a deficit in the decoding of emotional facial expression (EFE). Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether this deficit is specifically for emotions or due to a more general impairment in visual or facial processing. This study was designed to clarify this issue using multiple control tasks and the subtraction method. METHODS: Eighteen patients suffering from chronic alcoholism and 18 matched healthy control subjects were asked to perform several tasks evaluating (1) Basic visuo-spatial and facial identity processing; (2) Simple reaction times; (3) Complex facial features identification (namely age, emotion, gender, and race). Accuracy and reaction times were recorded. RESULTS: Alcoholic patients had a preserved performance for visuo-spatial and facial identity processing, but their performance was impaired for visuo-motor abilities and for the detection of complex facial aspects. More importantly, the subtraction method showed that alcoholism is associated with a specific EFE decoding deficit, still present when visuo-motor slowing down is controlled for. CONCLUSION: These results offer a post hoc confirmation of earlier data showing an EFE decoding deficit in alcoholism by strongly suggesting a specificity of this deficit for emotions. This may have implications for clinical situations, where emotional impairments are frequently observed among alcoholic subjects.

Language: en


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