Vulnerability to depression is associated with a failure to acquire implicit social appraisals.
ABSTRACT: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with disrupted relationships with partners, family, and peers. These problems can precipitate the onset of clinical illness, influence severity and the prospects for recovery. Here, we investigated whether individuals who have recovered from depression use interpersonal signals to form favourable appraisals of others as social partners. Twenty recovered-depressed adults (with >1 adult episode of MDD but euthymic and medication-free for six months) and 23 healthy, never-depressed adults completed a task in which the gaze direction of some faces reliably cued the location a target (valid faces), whereas other faces cued the opposite location (invalid faces). No participants reported awareness of this contingency, and both groups were significantly faster to categorise targets following valid compared with invalid gaze cueing faces. Following this task, participants judged the trustworthiness of the faces. Whereas the healthy never-depressed participants judged the valid faces to be significantly more trustworthy than the invalid faces; this implicit social appraisal was absent in the recovered-depressed participants. Individuals who have recovered from MDD are able to respond appropriately to joint attention with other people but appear to not use joint attention to form implicit trust appraisals of others as potential social partners.
Project description:Gaze direction is an important social communication tool. Global and local visual information are known to play specific roles in processing socially relevant information from a face. The current study investigated whether global visual information has a primary role during gaze-cued orienting of attention and, as such, may influence quality of interaction. Adults performed a gaze-cueing task in which a centrally presented face cued (valid or invalid) the location of a peripheral target through a gaze shift. We measured brain activity (electroencephalography) towards the cue and target and behavioral responses (manual and saccadic reaction times) towards the target. The faces contained global (i.e. lower spatial frequencies), local (i.e. higher spatial frequencies), or a selection of both global and local (i.e. mid-band spatial frequencies) visual information. We found a gaze cue-validity effect (i.e. valid versus invalid), but no interaction effects with spatial frequency content. Furthermore, behavioral responses towards the target were in all cue conditions slower when lower spatial frequencies were not present in the gaze cue. These results suggest that whereas gaze-cued orienting of attention can be driven by both global and local visual information, global visual information determines the speed of behavioral responses towards other entities appearing in the surrounding of gaze cue stimuli.
Project description:Faces that consistently shifted the gaze to subsequent target locations in a gaze cueing task were chosen as being more trustworthy than faces that always looked away from the target, suggesting that the validity of a gaze cue influenced the viewers' judgments regarding the trustworthiness of human faces. We investigated whether the gaze cueing effect and judgments regarding the personality conveyed by a face would be affected by the valence of a target. A face image moved its eyes to the left or the right, and an emotional target image (positive, negative, or neutral) appeared to left or right of the face. Participants had to indicate the location of this target by pressing a key. The target image was preceded by a face that shifted its gaze to the target image (valid cue), a face that directed its gaze to the opposite side (invalid cue), or a face that did not move its eyes (no cue). The perceived trustworthiness of the face was evaluated after the gaze-cueing task. Results showed that faces that looked at positive targets were evaluated as more trustworthy than faces that looked at negative targets. However, the valence of the targets did not affect trustworthiness ratings in invalid and no-cue conditions. We suggest that integrated information about the predictability of the gaze cue and the valence of the gaze target modulates impressions about the personality of the face.
Project description:Others' gaze and emotional facial expression are important cues for the process of attention orienting. Here, we investigated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) whether the combination of averted gaze and fearful expression may elicit a selectively early effect of attention orienting on the brain responses to targets. We used the direction of gaze of centrally presented fearful and happy faces as the spatial attention orienting cue in a Posner-like paradigm where the subjects had to detect a target checkerboard presented at gazed-at (valid trials) or non gazed-at (invalid trials) locations of the screen. We showed that the combination of averted gaze and fearful expression resulted in a very early attention orienting effect in the form of additional parietal activity between 55 and 70 ms for the valid versus invalid targets following fearful gaze cues. No such effect was obtained for the targets following happy gaze cues. This early cue-target validity effect selective of fearful gaze cues involved the left superior parietal region and the left lateral middle occipital region. These findings provide the first evidence for an effect of attention orienting induced by fearful gaze in the time range of C1. In doing so, they demonstrate the selective impact of combined gaze and fearful expression cues in the process of attention orienting.
Project description:Perception of both gaze-direction and symbolic directional cues (e.g. arrows) orient an observer's attention toward the indicated location. It is unclear, however, whether these similar behavioral effects are examples of the same attentional phenomenon and, therefore, subserved by the same neural substrate. It has been proposed that gaze, given its evolutionary significance, constitutes a 'special' category of spatial cue. As such, it is predicted that the neural systems supporting spatial reorienting will be different for gaze than for non-biological symbols. We tested this prediction using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the brain's response during target localization in which laterally presented targets were preceded by uninformative gaze or arrow cues. Reaction times were faster during valid than invalid trials for both arrow and gaze cues. However, differential patterns of activity were evoked in the brain. Trials including invalid rather than valid arrow cues resulted in a stronger hemodynamic response in the ventral attention network. No such difference was seen during trials including valid and invalid gaze cues. This differential engagement of the ventral reorienting network is consistent with the notion that the facilitation of target detection by gaze cues and arrow cues is subserved by different neural substrates.
Project description:Efficient processing of gaze direction and facial expression of emotion is crucial for early social and emotional development. Toward the end of the first year of life infants begin to pay more attention to negative expressions, but it remains unclear to what extent emotion expression is processed jointly with gaze direction at this age. This study sought to establish the interactions of gaze direction and emotion expression in visual orienting in 9- to 12-month-olds. In particular, we tested whether these interactions can be explained by the negativity bias hypothesis and the shared signal hypothesis. We measured saccadic latencies in response to peripheral targets in a gaze-cueing paradigm with happy, angry, and fearful female faces. In the Pilot Experiment three gaze directions were used (direct, congruent with target location, incongruent with target location). In the Main Experiment we sought to replicate the results of the Pilot experiment using a simpler design without the direct gaze condition. In both experiments we found a robust gaze-cueing effect for happy faces, i.e., facilitation of orienting toward the target in the gaze-cued location, compared with the gaze-incongruent location. We found more rapid orienting to targets cued by happy relative to angry and fearful faces. We did not find any gaze-cueing effect for angry or fearful faces. These results are not consistent with the shared signal hypothesis. While our results show differential processing of positive and negative emotions, they do not support a general negativity bias. On the contrary, they indicate that toward the age of 12 months infants show a positivity bias in gaze-cueing tasks.
Project description:It can be clinically difficult to distinguish depressed individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). To examine potential biomarkers of difference between the two disorders, the current study examined differences in the functioning of emotion-processing neural regions during a dynamic emotional faces task.During functional magnetic resonance imaging, healthy control adults (HC) (n = 29) and depressed adults with MDD (n = 30) and BD (n = 22) performed an implicit emotional-faces task in which they identified a color label superimposed on neutral faces that dynamically morphed into one of four emotional faces (angry, fearful, sad, happy). We compared neural activation between the groups in an amygdala region-of-interest and at the whole-brain level.Adults with MDD showed significantly greater activity than adults with BD in the left amygdala to the anger condition (p = 0.01). Results of whole-brain analyses (at p < 0.005, k ? 20) revealed that adults with BD showed greater activity to sad faces in temporoparietal regions, primarily in the left hemisphere, whereas individuals with MDD demonstrated greater activity than those with BD to displays of anger, fear, and happiness. Many of the observed BD-MDD differences represented abnormalities in functioning compared to HC.We observed a dissociation between depressed adults with BD and MDD in the processing of emerging emotional faces. Those with BD showed greater activity during mood-congruent (i.e., sad) faces, whereas those with MDD showed greater activity for mood-incongruent (i.e., fear, anger, and happy) faces. Such findings may reflect markers of differences between BD and MDD depression in underlying pathophysiological processes.
Project description:Eye gaze is an important signal in social interactions, and it plays an important role to understand what others looking in joint attention (JA) situations. JA has been examined in situations involving two people gazing at objects; however, ecologically, infants observe not only faces that gaze at objects but also those that gaze at other people. Here, we examined how eye gaze directed toward another face affect face preferences in infants. A total of 19 children were observed during a JA situation and a no-JA situation. In the JA situation, an adult face in the central position of the screen shifted her gaze to look at another adult face at a lateral position on the screen. However, during the no JA situation, the central face shifted her eye gaze away from the adult face presented on the screen. At test, for the centrally presented faces, infant looking times were longer at faces in the no JA condition. At test, for the laterally presented faces, looking times were longer at the faces in the JA condition. Thus, the adult's eye gaze biased the duration of the gaze of the infants at either the central faces or the lateral-cued faces in the preferential looking tests. These results suggest that 10-month-old infants may interpret adult gazing behavior and that this can affect the gazing behavior of infants.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with a mood-congruent processing bias in the amygdala toward face stimuli portraying sad expressions that is evident even when such stimuli are presented below the level of conscious awareness. The extended functional anatomical network that maintains this response bias has not been established, however.<h4>Aims</h4>To identify neural network differences in the hemodynamic response to implicitly presented facial expressions between depressed and healthy control participants.<h4>Method</h4>Unmedicated-depressed participants with MDD (n=22) and healthy controls (HC; n=25) underwent functional MRI as they viewed face stimuli showing sad, happy or neutral face expressions, presented using a backward masking design. The blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal was measured to identify regions where the hemodynamic response to the emotionally valenced stimuli differed between groups.<h4>Results</h4>The MDD subjects showed greater BOLD responses than the controls to masked-sad versus masked-happy faces in the hippocampus, amygdala and anterior inferotemporal cortex. While viewing both masked-sad and masked-happy faces relative to masked-neutral faces, the depressed subjects showed greater hemodynamic responses than the controls in a network that included the medial and orbital prefrontal cortices and anterior temporal cortex.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Depressed and healthy participants showed distinct hemodynamic responses to masked-sad and masked-happy faces in neural circuits known to support the processing of emotionally valenced stimuli and to integrate the sensory and visceromotor aspects of emotional behavior. Altered function within these networks in MDD may establish and maintain illness-associated differences in the salience of sensory/social stimuli, such that attention is biased toward negative and away from positive stimuli.
Project description:Detecting subtle indicators of trustworthiness is highly adaptive for moving effectively amongst social partners. One powerful signal is gaze direction, which individuals can use to inform (or deceive) by looking toward (or away from) important objects or events in the environment. Here, across 5 experiments, we investigate whether implicit learning about gaze cues can influence subsequent economic transactions; we also examine some of the underlying mechanisms. In the 1st experiment, we demonstrate that people invest more money with individuals whose gaze information has previously been helpful, possibly reflecting enhanced trust appraisals. However, in 2 further experiments, we show that other mechanisms driving this behavior include obligations to fairness or (painful) altruism, since people also make more generous offers and allocations of money to individuals with reliable gaze cues in adapted 1-shot ultimatum games and 1-shot dictator games. In 2 final experiments, we show that the introduction of perceptual noise while following gaze can disrupt these effects, but only when the social partners are unfamiliar. Nonconscious detection of reliable gaze cues can prompt altruism toward others, probably reflecting the interplay of systems that encode identity and control gaze-evoked attention, integrating the reinforcement value of gaze cues.
Project description:Difficulties in emotion processing and poor social function are common to bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) depression, resulting in many BD depressed individuals being misdiagnosed with MDD. The amygdala is a key region implicated in processing emotionally salient stimuli, including emotional facial expressions. It is unclear, however, whether abnormal amygdala activity during positive and negative emotion processing represents a persistent marker of BD regardless of illness phase or a state marker of depression common or specific to BD and MDD depression.Sixty adults were recruited: 15 depressed with BD type 1 (BDd), 15 depressed with recurrent MDD, 15 with BD in remission (BDr), diagnosed with DSM-IV and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Research Version criteria; and 15 healthy control subjects (HC). Groups were age- and gender ratio-matched; patient groups were matched for age of illness onset and illness duration; depressed groups were matched for depression severity. The BDd were taking more psychotropic medication than other patient groups. All individuals participated in three separate 3T neuroimaging event-related experiments, where they viewed mild and intense emotional and neutral faces of fear, happiness, or sadness from a standardized series.The BDd-relative to HC, BDr, and MDD-showed elevated left amygdala activity to mild and neutral facial expressions in the sad (p < .009) but not other emotion experiments that was not associated with medication. There were no other significant between-group differences in amygdala activity.Abnormally elevated left amygdala activity to mild sad and neutral faces might be a depression-specific marker in BD but not MDD, suggesting different pathophysiologic processes for BD versus MDD depression.