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Childhood facial emotion recognition and psychosis-like symptoms in a non-clinical population at 12 years of age: results from the ALSPAC birth cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136 - 157
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number2
DatePublished - 1 Mar 2011


INTRODUCTION: Nonclinical psychotic symptoms (for example, low intensity or low frequency psychotic symptoms such as ideas of reference or single word auditory hallucinations) are common in adolescents and may be associated with an increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder in adulthood. Those at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder appear to perform poorly on facial emotion recognition tasks but the relationship between facial emotion recognition and nonclinical "psychosis like symptoms" (PLIKS) in children is unclear. We aimed to examine the association between childhood facial emotion recognition and PLIKS in adolescents. METHODS: Longitudinal study using a large birth cohort. 6455 subjects completed a semistructured clinical assessment for psychotic symptoms (the PLIKSi) at the mean age of 12.9 (SD=0.23). Facial emotion recognition (using the DANVA) was previously assessed at the age of 8 in the cohort. RESULTS: There was no increase in odds of reporting any PLIKS either in relation to the total score on the measure of facial emotion recognition or for the individual emotion scores of fear, sadness, anger, and happiness. Similar results were also found when examining more intense and/or more frequently experienced psychotic symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Deficits in facial emotion recognition in 8-year-olds do not appear to predict later reporting of nonclinical psychotic symptoms in early adolescence. The results do not support the proposal that recognition of emotion is a trait phenomenon in those individuals at increased risk for psychosis. However, further research is warranted in older children/adolescents when more subtle emotion recognition deficits can be investigated.


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