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Eye Gaze Abnormalities in Youths at Familial Risk during Emotional Face Labeling

Friday, November 08, 2013 — Poster Session III

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center (Upper-Level Terrace)




  • D.E. Hsu
  • J. Stoddard
  • P. Kim
  • J. Arizpe
  • V. Razdan
  • C. Deveney
  • M.A. Brotman
  • J. Blair
  • D. Pine
  • C. Baker
  • E. Leibenluft


Objective: Face emotion processing deficits and amygdala dysfunction have been demonstrated in youths with bipolar disorder (BD) and youths at familial risk (i.e., first degree relatives of BD; AR). BD exhibit shorter fixation times on the eyes of emotional faces when compared to healthy controls. Here, we examine whether AR demonstrate an eye gaze pattern similar to BD. Method: Participants (14.7±2.2 years) were BD (n=22), AR (n=14), and healthy control youths (HC; n=22). During eye-tracking, participants labeled the expression of faces with varying emotional expressions (angry, fearful, sad, happy, and neutral) at intensities 60%, 80% and 100%. Results: Fixation durations on the eyes of emotional faces differed by group as expression intensity increased (F=2.82, p=0.01). In post hoc analyses, BD and AR demonstrated decreased duration of fixation on the eyes of faces with 80% and 100% emotional intensity compared to HC (p’s<0.01 for BD; p=0.04 for 80% and p=0.06 for 100% for AR). BD and AR groups were not significantly different. Conclusion: Similar to BD, youths at familial risk spent less time looking at the eyes of emotional faces. Further work is needed in order to determine if this eye gaze behavior is an endophenotype of bipolar disorder.

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