Modality-specific alterations in the perception of emotional stimuli in Bipolar Disorder compared to Healthy Controls and Major Depressive Disorder

Aaron C. Vederman, Sara L. Weisenbach, Lisa J. Rapport, Hadia M. Leon, Brennan D. Haase, Lindsay M. Franti, Michael Paul Schallmo, Erika F.H. Saunders, Masoud M. Kamali, Jon Kar Zubieta, Scott A. Langenecker, Melvin G. McInnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives: Affect identification accuracy paradigms have increasingly been utilized to understand psychiatric illness including Bipolar Disorder (BD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This investigation focused on perceptual accuracy in affect identification in both visual and auditory domains among patients with BD, relative to Healthy Controls (HC) and patients with MDD. Demographic and clinical variables, in addition to medications were also investigated. Method: The visual Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT) and auditory Emotional Perception Test (EPT) were administered to adults with BD (n= 119) and MDD (n= 78) as well as HC (n= 66). Results: Performance on the FEPT was significantly stronger than on the EPT irrespective of group. Performance on the EPT did not significantly differentiate the groups. On the FEPT, BD samples had the greatest difficulty relative to HC in identification of sad and fearful faces. BD participants also had greater difficulty identifying sad faces relative to MDD participants though not after controlling for severity of illness factors. For the BD (but not MDD) sample several clinical variables were also correlated with FEPT performance. Conclusions: The findings suggest that disruptions in identification of negative emotions such as sadness and fear may be a characteristic trait of BD. However, this effect may be moderated by greater illness severity found in our BD sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1034
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge funding from the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund (MGM and support for HML, BDH, LMF, MPS, EFHS, MMK, SAL) and KL2 Career Development Award (RR024987, SAL), K23 Award (MH074459, SAL and support for HML, BDH), PO1 MH 42251 (HA, JKZ, EAY), National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression awards (JKZ, SAL) and KO5 MH 01931(EAY), MO1 RR00042 (General Clinical Research Center), Rachel Upjohn Clinical Scholars Awards (SAL, SLW), internal support from the Depression and Neuropsychology Sections of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical Center, and the Department of Psychology.


  • Affect perception
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder


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