Deciphering facial expressions for kids: Can we help children read emotions?
Abstract Objective The purpose of this study is to examine processing of facial emotions in a sample of maltreated children showing high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. Maltreatment during childhood has been associated independently with both atypical processing of emotion and the development of PTSD.
Participants included a diverse sample of maltreated children with and without PTSD and controls ranging in age from 8 to 15 years.
Maltreated children had been removed from their homes and placed in state custody following experiences of maltreatment. Diagnoses of PTSD and other disorders were determined Child recognition of emotions combination of parent, child, and teacher reports.
Results Maltreated children displayed faster reaction times than controls when labeling emotional facial expressions, and this result was most pronounced for fearful faces.
Relative to children who were not maltreated, maltreated children both with and without PTSD showed enhanced response times when identifying fearful faces. There was no group difference in labeling of emotions when identifying different facial emotions. Conclusions Maltreated children show heightened ability to identify fearful faces, evidenced by faster reaction times relative to controls.
This association between maltreatment and atypical processing of emotion is independent of PTSD diagnosis. Maltreatment, Emotional processing, PTSD, Children Introduction The ability to recognize emotional expressions is invaluable for successful social interaction and effective interpersonal communication.
Children begin to develop this ability, which involves perceiving nonverbal cues and using these cues to determine which emotion is being expressed, very early. The development of normal ability to process emotional faces is thus largely dependent on normal experiences with emotions in daily social interactions.
Relative to nonmaltreated peers, maltreated children experience an atypical range of emotional cues, including less positive emotion e.
These patterns are likely associated with atypical caregiving experiences involving increased exposure to negative facial emotions relative to nonmaltreated children. Maltreated children also face an elevated risk of childhood mood and anxiety disorders, including PTSD and major depressive disorder MDD Cicchetti, ; Lansford et al.
Although these studies examined psychopathology among maltreated children, processing of emotion was not examined in these diagnosed samples. A parallel set of studies document associations between atypical processing of facial emotions and mood or anxiety disorders in children who have not experienced maltreatment McClure et al.
These findings raise questions about whether abnormal processing of facial emotions in maltreated children is a result of the maltreatment experience or is linked to psychopathology resulting from maltreatment.
No known study has examined the relationships among maltreatment, psychopathology, and atypical processing of emotion in a sample diagnosed with high rates of abuse-related psychopathology.
The present study examined the association between childhood maltreatment and cognitive processing of emotional information in a clinically diagnosed maltreated sample. Maltreated children experienced severe levels of abuse and, as a result, the majority exhibited high rates of PTSD as a result of their maltreatment.
It was hypothesized that maltreated children with PTSD would display abnormal patterns of emotional processing consistent with previous findings in nondiagnosed maltreated populations.
Thus, it was expected that maltreated children would process emotional faces happy, neutral, and fearful differently than controls, as evidenced by reaction time and emotion labeling measures. This difference was expected to be most pronounced for fearful faces.
Secondary analyses tested whether atypical processing of emotion following trauma was related to the presence or absence of PTSD. It was hypothesized that abnormalities in processing of facial emotions might be more acute among maltreated children with PTSD compared to maltreated children without PTSD, based on: Evidence in support of this hypothesis would suggest that atypical processing of emotion might be uniquely linked with PTSD symptomatology, beyond its association with childhood maltreatment.
In this study, there were three reasons for choosing fear as the negative emotion of interest, rather than a different threatening emotional state, such as anger. Second, although anger may indicate imminent threat for maltreated children, fear also suggests the presence of a threat in the immediate environment Whalen,Whalen et al.
Because fearful faces only indicate the presence of a threat, they are also more ambiguous than angry faces, which provide information about the specific source of a threat Whalen, Third, the long-term aim of this line of research is to understand the neural dysfunction that relates to maltreatment and maltreatment-related psychopathology.
To this end, a task compatible with functional neuroimaging was designed in order to measure responses to facial emotions in predicted neural structures. There is a highly replicated finding in the neuroimaging literature that exposure to fearful faces activates the amygdala Whalen et al.Child Emotion Recognition 1 Running head: Child Emotion Recognition Associations of Child Emotion Recognition with Interparental Conflict and Shy Child Temperament Traits Alice C.
Schermerhorn University of Vermont Author Note Alice C. Schermerhorn, Department of Psychological Science, University of Vermont. The Texarkana Gazette is the premier source for local news and sports in Texarkana and the surrounding Arklatex areas.
This study investigated parents’ emotion-related beliefs, experience, and expression, and children’s recognition of their parents’ emotions with 40 parent-child dyads.
For the testing procedure, the experimenter utilized two forms of emotion expressing questions: label-based and context-based. The context-based vignettes covered four emotional categories: happy, surprised, sad, and disgusted.
Each vignette was designed to examine emotion recognition in children (Ribordy, Camras, Stefani, & Spaccarelli, . He also reaps the reward of gaining recognition from others for his accomplishment. Most important, he discovers he has some control over his life: If he tries, he can do it.
Similarly, while recognition of emotion in faces reaches adult levels by 11 years, emotion recognition in voices continues to develop past this age (Chronaki, Hadwin, Garner, Maurage, & Sonuga-Barke, ). Other research looking solely at voice supports the conclusion that children find it difficult to interpret emotions from voice prosody.