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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2009 Apr;31(3):278-91. doi: 10.1080/13803390802043619. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Explicit identification and implicit recognition of facial emotions: II. Core domains and relationships with general cognition.

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Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead Millennium Institute and Western Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Both general and social cognition are important in providing endophenotypic markers and predicting real-world functional outcomes of clinical psychiatric disorders. However, to date, focus has been on general cognition, rather than on core domains of social/emotional cognition. This study sought to determine core domains of emotion processing for both explicit identification and implicit recognition and their relationships with core domains of general cognition. Age effects and sex differences were also investigated. A sample of 1,000 healthy individuals (6 to 91 years, 53.5% female) undertook the WebNeuro tests of emotion identification and recognition and tests of general cognitive function. Factor analysis revealed seven core domains of emotion processing: speed of explicit emotion identification, speed of implicit emotion recognition, implicit emotion recognition accuracy, "threat" processing, sadness-disgust identification, "positive emotion" processing, and general "face perception." Seven corresponding core domains of general cognition were identified: information-processing speed, executive function, sustained attention/vigilance, verbal memory, working-memory capacity, inhibition/impulsivity, and sensorimotor function. Factors of emotion processing generally showed positive associations with those of general cognitive function, suggesting commonality in processing speed in particular. Moreover, age had a consistent nonlinear impact on both emotion processing and general cognitive factors, while sex differences were more specific. These findings contribute to a normative and standardized structure for assessment of emotional and general cognition in clinical groups.

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