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Below and beyond the recognition of emotional facial expressions in alcohol dependence: from basic perception to social cognition

Authors D'Hondt F, Campanella S, Kornreich C, Philippot P, Maurage P

Received 26 September 2014

Accepted for publication 29 September 2014

Published 18 November 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 2177—2182


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Fabien D’Hondt,1 Salvatore Campanella,2 Charles Kornreich,2 Pierre Philippot,1 Pierre Maurage1

1Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; 2Laboratory of Medical Psychology and Addictology, ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Abstract: Studies that have carried out experimental evaluation of emotional skills in alcohol-dependence have, up to now, been mainly focused on the exploration of emotional facial expressions (EFE) decoding. In the present paper, we provide some complements to the recent systematic literature review published by Donadon and de Lima Osório on this crucial topic. We also suggest research avenues that must be, in our opinion, considered in the coming years. More precisely, we propose, first, that a battery integrating a set of emotional tasks relating to different processes should be developed to better systemize EFE decoding measures in alcohol-dependence. Second, we propose to go below EFE recognition deficits and to seek for the roots of those alterations, particularly by investigating the putative role played by early visual processing and vision–emotion interactions in the emotional impairment observed in alcohol-dependence. Third, we insist on the need to go beyond EFE recognition deficits by suggesting that they only constitute a part of wider emotional deficits in alcohol-dependence. Importantly, since the efficient decoding of emotions is a crucial ability for the development and maintenance of satisfactory interpersonal relationships, we suggest that disruption of this ability in alcohol-dependent individuals may have adverse consequences for their social integration. One way to achieve this research agenda would be to develop the field of affective and social neuroscience of alcohol-dependence, which could ultimately lead to major advances at both theoretical and therapeutic levels.

Keywords: alcohol-dependence, emotion, social cognition, vision

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