Impaired recognition of facially expressed emotions in different groups of patients with sleep disorders

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© 2016 Crönlein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.Introduction Recently it has been shown that acute sleep loss has a direct impact on emotional processing in healthy individuals. Here we studied the effect of chronically disturbed sleep on emotional processing by investigating two samples of patients with sleep disorders. Methods 25 patients with psychophysiologic insomnia (23 women and 2 men,mean age: 51.6 SD; 10.9 years), 19 patients with sleep apnea syndrome (4 women and 15men,mean age: 51.9; SD 11.1) and a control sample of 24 subjects with normal sleep (15women and 9 men,mean age 45.3; SD 8.8) completed a Facial Expressed Emotion Labelling (FEEL) task, requiring participants to categorize and rate the intensity of six emotional expression categories: anger, anxiety, fear, happiness, disgust and sadness. Differences in FEEL score and its subscales among the three samples were analysed using ANOVA with gender as a covariate. Results Both patients with psychophysiologic insomnia and patients with sleep apnea showed significantly lower performance in the FEEL test as compared to the control group. Differences were seen in the scales happiness and sadness. Patient groups did not differ fromeach other. Conclusion By demonstrating that previously known effects of acute sleep deprivation on emotional processing can be extended to persons experiencing chronically disturbed sleep, our data contribute to a deeper understanding of the relationship between sleep loss and emotions.




Crönlein, T., Langguth, B., Eichhammer, P., & Busch, V. (2016). Impaired recognition of facially expressed emotions in different groups of patients with sleep disorders. PLoS ONE, 11(4).

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