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Recognition of facial expressions in alcohol dependent inpatients

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2007
Dursun, Pınar
The ability to recognize emotional facial expressions (EFE) is very critical for social interaction and daily functioning. Recent studies have shown that alcohol dependent individuals have deficits in the recognition of these expressions. Thereby, the objective of this study was to explore the presence of impairment in the decoding of universally recognized facial expressions -happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, surprise, and neutral expressions- and to measure their manual reaction times (RT) toward these expressions in alcohol dependent inpatients. Demographic Information Form, CAGE Alcoholism Inventory, State- Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), The Symptom Checklist, and lastly a constructed computer program (Emotion Recognition Test) were administered to 50 detoxified alcohol dependent inpatients and 50 matched-control group participants. It was hypothesized that alcohol dependents would show more deficits in the accuracy of reading EFE and would react more rapidly toward negative EFE -fear, anger, disgust, sadness than control group. Series of ANOVA, ANCOVA, MANOVA and MANCOVA analyses revealed that alcohol dependent individuals were more likely to have depression and anxiety disorders than non-dependents. They recognized less but responded faster toward disgusted expressions than non-dependent individuals. On the other hand, two groups did not differ significantly in the total accuracy responses. In addition, the levels of depression and anxiety did not affect the recognition accuracy or reaction times. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that obsessive-compulsive subscale of SCL, BDI, STAI-S Form, and the recognition of fearful as well as disgusted expressions were associated with alcoholism. Results were discussed in relation to the previous findings in the literature. The inaccurate identification of disgusted faces might be associated with organic deficits resulted from alcohol consumption or cultural factors that play very important role in displaying expressions.