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“Now I see it, now I don’t”: Determining Threshold Levels of Facial Emotion Recognition for Use in Patient Populations

  • Isabelle Chiu (a1) (a2), Regina I. Gfrörer (a3), Olivier Piguet (a4) (a5), Manfred Berres (a6), Andreas U. Monsch (a2) and Marc Sollberger (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

The importance of including measures of emotion processing, such as tests of facial emotion recognition (FER), as part of a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is being increasingly recognized. In clinical settings, FER tests need to be sensitive, short, and easy to administer, given the limited time available and patient limitations. Current tests, however, commonly use stimuli that either display prototypical emotions, bearing the risk of ceiling effects and unequal task difficulty, or are cognitively too demanding and time-consuming. To overcome these limitations in FER testing in patient populations, we aimed to define FER threshold levels for the six basic emotions in healthy individuals. Forty-nine healthy individuals between 52 and 79 years of age were asked to identify the six basic emotions at different intensity levels (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, and 125% of the prototypical emotion). Analyses uncovered differing threshold levels across emotions and sex of facial stimuli, ranging from 50% up to 100% intensities. Using these findings as “healthy population benchmarks”, we propose to apply these threshold levels to clinical populations either as facial emotion recognition or intensity rating tasks. As part of any comprehensive social cognition test battery, this approach should allow for a rapid and sensitive assessment of potential FER deficits. (JINS, 2015, 21, 568–572)

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Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Marc Sollberger, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Basel, Schanzenstrasse 55, 4031 Basel, Switzerland. E-mail: marc.sollberger@usb.ch

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