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2.  Effects of diazepam on facial emotion recognition 
Objective
There have been few studies of the pharmacologic modulation of facial emotion recognition. The present study aimed to replicate and extend the finding that recognition of facial anger was selectively impaired by diazepam. The hypothesis was that, in comparison with placebo, diazepam would impair the recognition of facial anger in healthy volunteers, but not the recognition of 5 other basic emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, sadness and disgust.
Design
A randomized, counterbalanced, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects comparison of diazepam with placebo.
Setting
A university psychopharmacology research unit.
Participants
Healthy male (n = 6) and female (n = 22) volunteers, aged 18–45 years.
Procedures
Subjects were tested on 2 tasks following the administration of diazepam, 15 mg, and placebo on separate occasions. In the first “multimorph” task, images of facial expressions were morphed to produce continua between the neutral and full expressions of 6 basic emotions. Accuracy and identification thresholds were assessed for stimuli in which the intensity of expression gradually increased. In the second “emotional hexagon” task, facial expressions were morphed between pairs of emotions. Single images were presented, and accuracy and speed of response were assessed.
Results
Diazepam produced broad impairments in response accuracy, recognition thresholds and response speed on the facial emotion tasks that were not limited to angry expressions.
Conclusions
The present study found that diazepam, 15 mg, impaired facial emotion recognition, but not selectively. In the emotional hexagon task, a reaction-time analysis suggested that the identification of facial anger might be differentially sensitive to variations in stimulus duration, complicating the interpretation of this paradigm.
PMCID: PMC257795  PMID: 14631456
diazepam; emotions; facial expression; gamma-aminobutyric acid; perception
3.  Beclomethasone-induced vasoconstriction in women with major depressive disorder 
Objective
It has been hypothesized that abnormal negative feedback of cortisol release in major depressive disorder (MDD) may involve impaired central glucocorticoid receptor (GR) function. Beclomethasone-induced vasoconstriction (BIV) was recently used to test the hypothesis that impaired GR function generalizes to peripheral tissues, and it was reported that BIV was decreased in medicated patients with MDD. The objective was to test the hypothesis that BIV would be reduced in unmedicated women with MDD compared with healthy controls.
Design
Case–control.
Setting
A university womens' mental health research unit.
Participants
Women aged 18–65 years (n = 19) diagnosed, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, with MDD after a structured interview and clinical assessment. Healthy women pair-matched for age, reproductive and smoking status.
Procedures
BIV was tested using a range of beclomethasone dipropionate concentrations (1–100 μg/mL) applied to the forearm, with vasoconstriction scored visually after 15–18 hours by raters blinded to diagnosis and the randomization of the application sites.
Outcome measure
Visual scores for BIV at each beclomethasone concentration.
Results
No significant differences between patients with MDD and controls were found. Postmenopausal women showed less of a response than premenopausal women or women taking sex-hormone preparations.
Conclusion
The study did not concur with the previous finding that BIV is decreased in MDD. Further research is needed to determine whether the difference in findings is due to medication or to other factors that may have distinguished the samples, including sex, age, reproductive status, illness severity, treatment resistance and setting.
PMCID: PMC193983  PMID: 14517580
beclomethasone; depressive disorder; glucocorticoid; hydrocortisone; receptors, vasoconstriction; women

Results 1-3 (3)