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Cortex. 2005 Apr;41(2):189-94.

Processing of affective stimuli in alcoholism.

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Department of Neuropsychology, Ruhr-University of Bochum, Germany.


Investigations of neuropsychological functioning in alcoholism have revealed executive and memory deficits which have been interpreted in the light of the "frontal lobe hypothesis" which asserts that the frontal lobes are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol. Inspite of the known involvement of the orbitofrontal cortex in the processing of affective stimuli, only few studies concerning affective processing in alcoholism have been conducted so far. Alcoholics and healthy controls were compared by using a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery which included the measurement of facial affect as well as affective prosody perception. Analysis revealed impairments of alcoholics with respect to naming prosody with incongruent semantic content and matching affective prosody to facial expression. Alcoholics showed deficits of affective prosody processing which became evident in ambiguous situations in which no additional cues could be used simultaneously for the interpretation of emotional prosody. These deficits could contribute to interpersonal problem solving and should thus be considered in the therapy of alcoholism.

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