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Automatic processing of facial affects in patients with borderline personality disorder: associations with symptomatology and comorbid disorders.

Donges US, Dukalski B, Kersting A, Suslow T - Ann Gen Psychiatry (2015)

Bottom Line: The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders was found to be positively correlated with evaluative shifting owing to masked happy primes, regardless of baseline-neutral or no facial expression condition.The presence of comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression were significantly correlated with response delay due to masked angry faces, regardless of baseline.In the present affective priming study, no abnormalities in the automatic recognition and processing of facial affects were observed in BPD patients compared to healthy individuals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: Instability of affects and interpersonal relations are important features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Interpersonal problems of individuals suffering from BPD might develop based on abnormalities in the processing of facial affects and high sensitivity to negative affective expressions. The aims of the present study were to examine automatic evaluative shifts and latencies as a function of masked facial affects in patients with BPD compared to healthy individuals. As BPD comorbidity rates for mental and personality disorders are high, we investigated also the relationships of affective processing characteristics with specific borderline symptoms and comorbidity.

Methods: Twenty-nine women with BPD and 38 healthy women participated in the study. The majority of patients suffered from additional Axis I disorders and/or additional personality disorders. In the priming experiment, angry, happy, neutral, or no facial expression was briefly presented (for 33 ms) and masked by neutral faces that had to be evaluated. Evaluative decisions and response latencies were registered. Borderline-typical symptomatology was assessed with the Borderline Symptom List.

Results: In the total sample, valence-congruent evaluative shifts and delays of evaluative decision due to facial affect were observed. No between-group differences were obtained for evaluative decisions and latencies. The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders was found to be positively correlated with evaluative shifting owing to masked happy primes, regardless of baseline-neutral or no facial expression condition. The presence of comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression were significantly correlated with response delay due to masked angry faces, regardless of baseline.

Conclusions: In the present affective priming study, no abnormalities in the automatic recognition and processing of facial affects were observed in BPD patients compared to healthy individuals. The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders could make patients more susceptible to the influence of a happy expression on judgment processes at an automatic processing level. Comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression may enhance automatic attention allocation to threatening facial expressions in BPD. Increased automatic vigilance for social threat stimuli might contribute to affective instability and interpersonal problems in specific patients with BPD.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Examples of faces presented in the four prime conditions—happy, angry, neutral, and no facial expression. Faces were accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database provided by Ekman and Friesen [30].
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Fig1: Examples of faces presented in the four prime conditions—happy, angry, neutral, and no facial expression. Faces were accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database provided by Ekman and Friesen [30].

Mentions: In our affective priming experiment, stimuli consisted of monochrome angry, happy, and neutral expressions accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database [30]. Affective and neutral faces of ten individuals (50% female for each facial type) were applied as primes. To avoid identity of prime and mask stimulus in the neutral prime condition, neutral primes were vertically mirrored. That is, neutral prime faces were created by a mirror inversion (left to right) of neutral mask faces. In our affective priming task, 80 trials were presented: 20 with angry, 20 with happy, and 20 with neutral prime faces. In 20 trials, primes with no facial features were shown. Thus, each trial was presented twice. In each trial, facial expressions of the same individual were displayed. In the no facial expression condition, stimuli consisted of neutral faces in which central facial features—mouth, nose, and eyes—had been replaced by a surface without contours (see Figure 1 for examples of prime stimuli). Trials were presented in a fixed random sequence with the constraints that no two subsequent trials depicted the same person, not more than two subsequent trials showed the same prime category, and no trial was shown twice per half.Figure 1


Automatic processing of facial affects in patients with borderline personality disorder: associations with symptomatology and comorbid disorders.

Donges US, Dukalski B, Kersting A, Suslow T - Ann Gen Psychiatry (2015)

Examples of faces presented in the four prime conditions—happy, angry, neutral, and no facial expression. Faces were accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database provided by Ekman and Friesen [30].
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4499878&req=5

Fig1: Examples of faces presented in the four prime conditions—happy, angry, neutral, and no facial expression. Faces were accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database provided by Ekman and Friesen [30].
Mentions: In our affective priming experiment, stimuli consisted of monochrome angry, happy, and neutral expressions accessed from the Pictures of Facial Affect database [30]. Affective and neutral faces of ten individuals (50% female for each facial type) were applied as primes. To avoid identity of prime and mask stimulus in the neutral prime condition, neutral primes were vertically mirrored. That is, neutral prime faces were created by a mirror inversion (left to right) of neutral mask faces. In our affective priming task, 80 trials were presented: 20 with angry, 20 with happy, and 20 with neutral prime faces. In 20 trials, primes with no facial features were shown. Thus, each trial was presented twice. In each trial, facial expressions of the same individual were displayed. In the no facial expression condition, stimuli consisted of neutral faces in which central facial features—mouth, nose, and eyes—had been replaced by a surface without contours (see Figure 1 for examples of prime stimuli). Trials were presented in a fixed random sequence with the constraints that no two subsequent trials depicted the same person, not more than two subsequent trials showed the same prime category, and no trial was shown twice per half.Figure 1

Bottom Line: The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders was found to be positively correlated with evaluative shifting owing to masked happy primes, regardless of baseline-neutral or no facial expression condition.The presence of comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression were significantly correlated with response delay due to masked angry faces, regardless of baseline.In the present affective priming study, no abnormalities in the automatic recognition and processing of facial affects were observed in BPD patients compared to healthy individuals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: Instability of affects and interpersonal relations are important features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Interpersonal problems of individuals suffering from BPD might develop based on abnormalities in the processing of facial affects and high sensitivity to negative affective expressions. The aims of the present study were to examine automatic evaluative shifts and latencies as a function of masked facial affects in patients with BPD compared to healthy individuals. As BPD comorbidity rates for mental and personality disorders are high, we investigated also the relationships of affective processing characteristics with specific borderline symptoms and comorbidity.

Methods: Twenty-nine women with BPD and 38 healthy women participated in the study. The majority of patients suffered from additional Axis I disorders and/or additional personality disorders. In the priming experiment, angry, happy, neutral, or no facial expression was briefly presented (for 33 ms) and masked by neutral faces that had to be evaluated. Evaluative decisions and response latencies were registered. Borderline-typical symptomatology was assessed with the Borderline Symptom List.

Results: In the total sample, valence-congruent evaluative shifts and delays of evaluative decision due to facial affect were observed. No between-group differences were obtained for evaluative decisions and latencies. The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders was found to be positively correlated with evaluative shifting owing to masked happy primes, regardless of baseline-neutral or no facial expression condition. The presence of comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression were significantly correlated with response delay due to masked angry faces, regardless of baseline.

Conclusions: In the present affective priming study, no abnormalities in the automatic recognition and processing of facial affects were observed in BPD patients compared to healthy individuals. The presence of comorbid anxiety disorders could make patients more susceptible to the influence of a happy expression on judgment processes at an automatic processing level. Comorbid depressive disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and symptoms of social isolation and self-aggression may enhance automatic attention allocation to threatening facial expressions in BPD. Increased automatic vigilance for social threat stimuli might contribute to affective instability and interpersonal problems in specific patients with BPD.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus