Visual processing of emotional expressions in mixed anxious-depressed subclinical state: an event-related potential study on a female sample.Neurophysiol Clin. 2008 Oct; 38(5):267-75.NC
Controversy remains about the existence and the nature of a specific bias in emotional facial expression processing in mixed anxious-depressed state (MAD).
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Event-related potentials were recorded in the following three types of groups defined by the Spielberger state and trait anxiety inventory (STAI) and the Beck depression inventory (BDI): a group of anxious participants (n=12), a group of participants with depressive and anxious tendencies (n=12), and a control group (n=12). Participants were confronted with a visual oddball task in which they had to detect, as quickly as possible, deviant faces amongst a train of standard neutral faces. Deviant stimuli changed either on identity, or on emotion (happy or sad expression).
Anxiety facilitated emotional processing and the two anxious groups produced quicker responses than control participants; these effects were correlated with an earlier decisional wave (P3b) for anxious participants. Mixed anxious-depressed participants showed enhanced visual processing of deviant stimuli and produced higher amplitude in attentional complex (N2b/P3a), both for identity and emotional trials. P3a was also particularly increased for emotional faces in this group.
Anxious state mainly influenced later decision processes (shorter latency of P3b), whereas mixed anxious-depressed state acted on earlier steps of emotional processing (enhanced N2b/P3a complex). Mixed anxious-depressed individuals seemed more reactive to any visual change, particularly emotional change, without displaying any valence bias.