Face emotion perception and executive functioning deficits in depression

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2005 Apr;27(3):320-33. doi: 10.1080/13803390490490515720.


Frontal, limbic and temporal regions of the brain important in emotion perception and executive functioning also have been implicated in the etiology and maintenance of depression; yet, the relationships among these topics remain poorly understood. The present study evaluated emotion perception and executive functioning among 21 depressed women and 20 nondepressed women controls. Depressed women performed significantly worse than controls in emotion perception accuracy and in inhibitory control, an aspect of executive functioning, whereas the groups did not differ in other cognitive tests assessing memory, visual-spatial, motor, and attention skills. The findings suggest that emotion perception and executive functioning are disproportionately negatively affected relative to other cognitive functions, even in a high-functioning group of mildly depressed women. Measures of emotion perception and executive functioning may be of assistance in objectively measuring functional capability of the ventral and dorsal neural systems, respectively, as well as in the diagnosis of depression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*