Effects of acute alcohol consumption and processing of emotion in faces: Implications for understanding alcohol-related aggression

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The negative consequences of chronic alcohol abuse are well known, but heavy episodic consumption ("binge drinking") is also associated with significant personal and societal harms. Aggressive tendencies are increased after alcohol but the mechanisms underlying these changes are not fully understood. While effects on behavioural control are likely to be important, other effects may be involved given the widespread action of alcohol. Altered processing of social signals is associated with changes in social behaviours, including aggression, but until recently there has been little research investigating the effects of acute alcohol consumption on these outcomes. Recent work investigating the effects of acute alcohol on emotional face processing has suggested reduced sensitivity to submissive signals (sad faces) and increased perceptual bias towards provocative signals (angry faces) after alcohol consumption, which may play a role in alcohol-related aggression. Here we discuss a putative mechanism that may explain how alcohol consumption influences emotional processing and subsequent aggressive responding, via disruption of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)-amygdala connectivity. While the importance of emotional processing on social behaviours is well established, research into acute alcohol consumption and emotional processing is still in its infancy. Further research is needed and we outline a research agenda to address gaps in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-732
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2014.

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Tobacco and Alcohol

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • aggression
  • emotional processing
  • faces

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