Recognition of facial expressions by alcoholic patients: a systematic literature review
Mariana Fortunata Donadon,1,2 Flávia de Lima Osório1,3,4
1Department of Neurosciences and Behavior, Medical School of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, 2Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel-CAPS, 3Technology Institute for Translational Medicine, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil; 4Agency of São Paulo Research Foundation, São Paulo, Brazil
Background: Alcohol abuse and dependence can cause a wide variety of cognitive, psychomotor, and visual-spatial deficits. It is questionable whether this condition is associated with impairments in the recognition of affective and/or emotional information. Such impairments may promote deficits in social cognition and, consequently, in the adaptation and interaction of alcohol abusers with their social environment. The aim of this systematic review was to systematize the literature on alcoholics’ recognition of basic facial expressions in terms of the following outcome variables: accuracy, emotional intensity, and latency time.
Methods: A systematic literature search in the PsycINFO, PubMed, and SciELO electronic databases, with no restrictions regarding publication year, was employed as the study methodology.
Results: The findings of some studies indicate that alcoholics have greater impairment in facial expression recognition tasks, while others could not differentiate the clinical group from controls. However, there was a trend toward greater deficits in alcoholics. Alcoholics displayed less accuracy in recognition of sadness and disgust and required greater emotional intensity to judge facial expressions corresponding to fear and anger.
Conclusion: The current study was only able to identify trends in the chosen outcome variables. Future studies that aim to provide more precise evidence for the potential influence of alcohol on social cognition are needed.
Keywords: alcoholism, face, emotional recognition, facial expression, systematic review
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