Emotion recognition and adverse childhood experiences in individuals at clinical high risk of psychosis

Stefania Tognin*, Ana Catalan, Gemma Modinos, Matthew J. Kempton, Barnaby Nelson, Christos Pantelis, Patrick D. McGorry, Anita Riecher-Rössler, Stefan Borgwardt, Rodrigo Bressan, Neus Barrantes-Vidal, Marie Odile Krebs, Merete Nordentoft, Stephan Ruhrmann, Gabriele Sachs, Bart P.F. Rutten, Jim Van Os, Lieuwe De Haan, Eva Velthorst, Mark Van Der GaagPhilip McGuire, Lucia R. Valmaggia, , Tecelli Dominguez Martinez, Anna Racioppi , Manel Monsonet Bardaji, Lídia Hinojosa Marqués, Thomas Kwapil, M Kazes, C Daban, J Bourgin, O Gay, Célia Jantac, Marie Odile Krebs, Dorte Nordholm, Lasse Randers, Kristine Krakauer, Louise Birkedal Glenthøj, Birte Glenthøj, Merete Nordentoft, Stephan Ruhrmann, Dominika Gebhard, Julia Arnhold, Joachim Klosterkötter, G Sachs, I Lasser, B Winklbaur, Philippe Delespaul, Bart P.F. Rutten, J. Van Os

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the association between facial affect recognition (FAR) and type of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a sample of clinical high risk (CHR) individuals and a matched sample of healthy controls (HCs). Methods: In total, 309 CHR individuals and 51 HC were recruited as part of an European Union-funded multicenter study (EU-GEI) and included in this work. During a 2-year follow-up period, 65 CHR participants made a transition to psychosis (CHR-T) and 279 did not (CHR-NT). FAR ability was measured using a computerized version of the Degraded Facial Affect Recognition (DFAR) task. ACEs were measured using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and the Bullying Questionnaire. Generalized regression models were used to investigate the relationship between ACE and FAR. Logistic regressions were used to investigate the relationship between FAR and psychotic transition. Results: In CHR individuals, having experienced emotional abuse was associated with decreased total and neutral DFAR scores. CHR individuals who had experienced bullying performed better in the total DFAR and in the frightened condition. In HC and CHR, having experienced the death of a parent during childhood was associated with lower DFAR total score and lower neutral DFAR score, respectively. Analyses revealed a modest increase of transition risk with increasing mistakes from happy to angry faces. Conclusions: Adverse experiences in childhood seem to have a significant impact on emotional processing in adult life. This information could be helpful in a therapeutic setting where both difficulties in social interactions and adverse experiences are often addressed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)823-833
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Childhood adversities
  • Emotional processing
  • Facial affect
  • Psychosis risk
  • Recognition
  • Vulnerability to psychosis


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