Scientific article
Open access

Dysfunctional gaze processing in bipolar disorder

Published inNeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 16, p. 545-556
Publication date2017

Gaze conveys emotional information, and humans present sensitivity to its direction from the earliest days of life. Bipolar disorder is a disease characterized by fluctuating states of emotional and cognitive dysregulation. To explore the role of attentional control on face processing in bipolar patients (BP) we used gaze direction as an emotion modulation parameter in a two-back Working Memory (WM) task while high-density EEG data were acquired. Since gaze direction influences emotional attributions to faces with neutral expressions as well, we presented neutral faces with direct and averted gaze. Nineteen euthymic BP and a sample of age- and gender-matched controls were examined. In BP we observed diminished P200 and augmented P300 evoked responses, differentially modulated by non-repeated or repeated faces, as well as by gaze direction. BP showed a reduced P200 amplitude, significantly stronger for faces with direct gaze than averted gaze. Source localization of P200 indicated decreased activity in sensory-motor regions and frontal areas suggestive of abnormal affective processing of neutral faces. The present study provides neurophysiological evidence for abnormal gaze processing in BP and suggests dysfunctional processing of direct eye contact as a prominent characteristic of bipolar disorder.

Citation (ISO format)
BERCHIO, Cristina et al. Dysfunctional gaze processing in bipolar disorder. In: NeuroImage: Clinical, 2017, vol. 16, p. 545–556. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.09.006
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2213-1582

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