Processing emotional facial expressions influences performance on a Go/ NoGo task in pediatric anxiety and depression

Cecile D. Ladouceur, Ronald E. Dahl, Douglas E. Williamson, Boris Birmaher, David A. Axelson, Neal D. Ryan, B. J. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: This study investigated whether processing emotionally salient information such as emotional facial expressions influences the performance on a cognitive control task in pediatric anxiety and depression. Methods: The sample included 68 participants between 8 and 16 years of age selected into three diagnostic groups: Anxiety Disorder (ANX, n = 23), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD, n = 19), and Low-Risk Normal Control (LRNC, n = 26). Participants completed an Emotional Go/NoGo task in which participants must either respond to (Go trials) or not respond to (NoGo trials) specific facial expressions (angry, fearful, sad, happy, neutral). In order to manipulate the level of cognitive control needed to perform the task, the probability of occurrence of the Go trials was varied across 3 probability conditions (low, moderate, high). Results: Analyses showed that the MDD group had significantly faster reaction times to sad face Go trials embedded in neutral face NoGo trials in the moderate probability condition and that the ANX group had significantly slower reaction times to neutral face Go trials embedded in angry face NoGo trials in the low probability condition. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that processing emotional facial expressions influences the performance on a cognitive control task in children and adolescents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and major depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1115
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume47
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Anxiety
  • Children
  • Cognitive control
  • Depression
  • Emotional processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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