Alcohol consumption has been associated with increases in aggressive behaviour. However, experimental evidence of a direct association is equivocal, and mechanisms that may underlie this relationship are poorly understood. One mechanism by which alcohol consumption may increase aggressive behaviour is via alterations in processing of emotional facial cues. We investigated the effects of acute alcohol consumption on sensitivity to facial expressions of emotion. Participants attended three experimental sessions where they consumed an alcoholic drink (0.0, 0.2 or 0.4 g/kg), and completed a psychophysical task to distinguish expressive from neutral faces. The level of emotion in the expressive face varied across trials the threshold at which the expressive face was reliably identified and measured. We observed a significant three-way interaction involving emotion, participant sex and alcohol dose. Male participants showed significantly higher perceptual thresholds for sad facial expressions compared with female participants following consumption of the highest dose of alcohol. Our data indicate sex differences in the processing of facial cues of emotional expression following alcohol consumption. There was no evidence that alcohol altered the processing of angry facial expressions. Future studies should examine effects of alcohol expectancy and investigate the effects of alcohol on the miscategorisation of emotional expressions.
|Translated title of the contribution||Effects of acute alcohol consumption on processing of perceptual cues of emotional expression|
|Pages (from-to)||23 - 30|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Psychopharmacology|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2009|