Emotion Recognition Performance in Children with Callous Unemotional Traits is Modulated by Co-occurring Autistic Traits.

Rachael Bedford, Virginia Carter Leno, Nicola Wright, Matthew Bluett-Duncan, Tim J. Smith, Gizelle Anzures, Andrew Pickles, Helen Sharp, Jonathan Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Objective: Atypical emotion recognition (ER) is characteristic of children with high callous unemotional (CU) traits. The current study aims to 1) replicate studies showing ER difficulties for static faces in relation to high CU-traits; 2) test whether ER difficulties remain when more naturalistic dynamic stimuli are used; 3) test whether ER performance for dynamic stimuli is moderated by eye-gaze direction and 4) assess the impact of co-occurring autistic traits on the association between CU and ER. Methods: Participants were 292 (152 male) 7-year-olds from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study (WCHADS). Children completed a static and dynamic ER eye-tracking task, and accuracy, reaction time and attention to the eyes were recorded. Results: Higher parent-reported CU-traits were significantly associated with reduced ER for static expressions, with lower accuracy for angry and happy faces. No association was found for dynamic expressions. However, parent-reported autistic traits were associated with ER difficulties for both static and dynamic expressions, and after controlling for autistic traits, the association between CU-traits and ER for static expressions became non-significant. CU-traits and looking to the eyes were not associated in either paradigm. Conclusion: The finding that CU-traits and ER are associated for static but not naturalistic dynamic expressions may be because motion cues in the dynamic stimuli draw attention to emotion-relevant features such as eyes and mouth. Further, results suggest that ER difficulties in CU-traits may be due, in part, to co-occurring autistic traits. Future developmental studies are required to tease apart pathways toward the apparently overlapping cognitive phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-827
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
Volume50
Issue number6
Early online date30 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council Grant Nos. G0400577 and G0900654, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. AP was partially supported by NIHR Senior Investigator award NF-SI-0617-10120. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Medical Research Council, the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research, or the Department of Health. R. Bedford was supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (103046/Z/13/Z) and a King’s Prize Fellowship (204823/Z/16/Z). V. Carter Leno was supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. We are very grateful to all the families who have generously participated in the study. We also thank our research staff who contributed to study completion together with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for facilitating recruitment and follow-up. Information about the data and conditions for access are available at the University of Liverpool Research Data Catalogue: https://doi.org/10.17638/datacat.liverpool.ac.uk/564 .

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Medical Research Council [G0400577,G0900654]; National Institute for Health Research [NF-SI-0617-10120]; Wellcome Trust [103046/Z/13/Z,204823/Z/16/Z]. This work was supported by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council Grant Nos. G0400577 and G0900654, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King?s College London. AP was partially supported by NIHR Senior Investigator award NF-SI-0617-10120. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Medical Research Council, the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research, or the Department of Health. R. Bedford was supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (103046/Z/13/Z) and a King?s Prize Fellowship (204823/Z/16/Z). V. Carter Leno was supported by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. We are very grateful to all the families who have generously participated in the study. We also thank our research staff who contributed to study completion together with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for facilitating recruitment and follow-up. Information about the data and conditions for access are available at the University of Liverpool Research Data Catalogue: https://doi.org/10.17638/datacat.liverpool.ac.uk/564.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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