Social-specific impairment of negative emotion perception in alexithymia

Zhihao Wang, Katharina S. Goerlich, Yue-jia Luo, Pengfei Xu, Andre Aleman

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

6 Citaten (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Alexithymia has been characterized as an impaired ability of emotion processing and regulation. The definition of alexithymia does not include a social component. However, there is some evidence that social cognition may be compromised in individuals with alexithymia. Hence, emotional impairments associated with alexithymia may extend to socially relevant information. Here, we recorded electrophysiological responses of individuals meeting the clinically relevant cutoff for alexithymia (ALEX; n = 24) and individuals without alexithymia (NonALEX; n = 23) while they viewed affective scenes that varied on the dimensions of sociality and emotional valence during a rapid serial visual presentation task. We found that ALEX exhibited lower accuracy and larger N2 than NonALEX in the perception of social negative scenes. Source reconstruction revealed that the group difference in N2 was localized at the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Irrespective of emotional valence, ALEX showed stronger alpha power than NonALEX in social but not non-social conditions. Our findings support the hypothesis of social processing being selectively affected by alexithymia, especially for stimuli with negative valence. Electrophysiological evidence suggests altered deployment of attentional resources in the perception of social-specific emotional information in alexithymia. This work sheds light on the neuropsychopathology of alexithymia and alexithymia-related disorders.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)387-397
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - 1-apr.-2022

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