Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BPD), by definition, have problems with emotional regulation. However, it remains uncertain whether these patients are also deficient at processing other people's emotions, particularly while manic. The present study examined the ability of 25 manic bipolar patients and 25 healthy participants on tasks of facial recognition and facial affect recognition at three different presentation durations: 500 ms, 750 ms, and 1000 ms. The groups did not differ in terms of age, education, sex, ethnicity, or estimated IQ. The groups did not differ significantly on either a novel computerized facial recognition task or the Benton Facial Recognition Test. In contrast, the bipolar group performed significantly more poorly than did the comparison group on a novel facial affect labeling task. Although the patient group had slower reaction times on all 3 computerized tasks, the presentation duration did not have an effect on performance in the patients. This study suggests that patients with bipolar disorder are able to recognize faces, but have difficulty processing facial affective cues. (JINS, 2003, 9, 623–632.)
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