Studying Klinefelter syndrome (47,XXY), a genetically defined disorder characterized by the presence of an additional X chromosome, can reveal insights into genotype-phenotype associations. Increased vulnerability to psychiatric disorders characterized by difficulties in social interactions, such as schizophrenia and autism, has been reported for this population. The reported social difficulties in 47,XXY men may arise as a consequence of impairments in the processing of social and emotional information. The present study is the first investigation of social-emotional information processing in this X chromosomal disorder.
32 Klinefelter men and 26 men from the general population, with the groups matched for age, educational level and I.Q., participated in the study. Several tasks were included, reflecting aspects of social-emotional information processing on levels of perception, experience and expression: labeling of facial expressions of emotion, emotion-cognition interactions in decision making and emotion regulation, that refers to subjective experience and identification of emotional arousal as well as verbal expression of emotions.
A discrepancy between cognitive appraisal of emotions and emotional arousal was observed in Klinefelter syndrome. Taken together, Klinefelter men seem less accurate in perception of socio-emotional cues such as angry facial expressions, they are less able to identify and verbalize their emotions, but experience increased levels of emotional arousal, in comparison to the general population. Besides describing the social-emotional phenotype of this X chromosomal disorder, the present data may prove to be an important contribution to the development of more general models describing pathways to neuropsychiattic disorders characterized by social cognitive disturbances. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.