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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1999 Jun;23(6):1031-8.

Alcoholics' deficits in the decoding of emotional facial expression.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


The present study investigated emotional facial expression decoding in alcoholics. Twenty-five alcoholic patients at the end of the detoxification process were compared with 25 volunteers matched for age, sex, and education. They were presented with facial expressions of neutral, mild, moderate, or strong emotional intensity. Results indicate that alcoholics overestimate the intensity of emotional expressions and make more errors in their decoding with a special bias for anger and contempt. Moreover, this decoding deficit is not perceived by the alcoholic patients. A general model is proposed that links visuospatial deficits, abnormal processing of social information, interpersonal stress, and alcohol abuse.

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