Impaired processing of emotion in music, faces and voices supports a generalized emotional decoding deficit in alcoholism.

Authors:
Charles Kornreich
Charles Kornreich
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Belgium
Damien Brevers
Damien Brevers
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Belgium
Delphine Canivet
Delphine Canivet
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Elsa Ermer
Elsa Ermer
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Belgium
Eric Constant
Eric Constant
Université Catholique de Louvain
Belgium
Paul Verbanck
Paul Verbanck
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Belgium
Salvatore Campanella
Salvatore Campanella
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Belgium

Addiction 2013 Jan 20;108(1):80-8. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Laboratoire de Psychologie Médicale et d'Addictologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.

Aim: To test the generalized emotional decoding impairment hypothesis in alcoholism.

Design: Cross-sectional behavioural study comparing emotion recognition conveyed by faces, voices and musical excerpts.

Setting: Alcohol detoxification unit of Brugmann University Hospital.

Participants: Twenty-five recently detoxified alcohol-dependent patients were compared to 25 normal controls matched for sex, age and educational level.

Measurements: From faces, voices and musical excerpts, participants were instructed to rate the intensity of several emotions on a scale from 0 for 'absent' to 9 for 'highly present'. Depression, anxiety and sustained/selective attention capacities were controlled for.

Findings: Alcohol-dependent patients were less accurate than controls in identifying the target emotion in faces (P < 0.001), voices (P < 0.001) and musical excerpts (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Alcohol-dependent patients who are completing detoxification are impaired in recognizing emotions conveyed by faces, voices and music; these results suggest a generalized emotional decoding impairment. Hypothetically, deficits in the fronto-parietal mirror neurone system could link all these disturbances together.
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January 2013
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