New perspectives on emotional processing in people with symptomatic Huntington’s disease: impaired emotion regulation and recognition of emotional body language

Nicolò Zarotti, Ian John Fletcher, Jane Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Emotion regulation and emotional body language (EBL) recognition represent two fundamental components of emotional processing that have recently seen a considerable surge in research interest, in part due to the role they play in optimising mental health. This appears to be particularly true for clinical conditions that can profoundly affect emotional functioning. Among these is Huntington’s disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disorder that is associated with several psychological difficulties and cognitive impairments, including well-established deficits in facial emotion recognition. However, although the theoretical case for impairments is strong, the current evidence in HD on other components such as emotion regulation and EBL recognition is sparse.Method: In this study, it was hypothesised that emotion regulation and recognition of EBL are impaired in people with symptomatic HD, and that these impairments significantly and positively correlate with each other. A between-subjects design was adopted to compare 13 people with symptomatic HD with 12 non-affected controls matched for age and education.Results: The results showed that emotion regulation and EBL recognition were significantly impaired in individuals with HD. Moreover, a significant positive correlation was observed between facial and EBL recognition impairments, while EBL performance was negatively related to the disease stage. However, emotion regulation and recognition performances were not significantly correlated.Conclusions: This investigation represents the first evidence of a deficit of emotion regulation and EBL recognition in individuals with HD. The clinical implications of these findings are explored, and indications for future research are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610–624
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology
Issue number5
Early online date3 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

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