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Effects of Repeated Concussions and Sex on Early Processing of Emotional Facial Expressions as Revealed by Electrophysiology

  • Frédérike Carrier-Toutant (a1), Samuel Guay (a2) (a3), Christelle Beaulieu (a1), Édith Léveillé (a2) (a4), Alexandre Turcotte-Giroux (a1), Samaël D. Papineau (a1), Benoit Brisson (a1), Fabien D’Hondt (a5) (a6) (a7) and Louis De Beaumont (a2) (a8)...


Objectives: Concussions affect the processing of emotional stimuli. This study aimed to investigate how sex interacts with concussion effects on early event-related brain potentials (ERP) measures (P1, N1) of emotional facial expressions (EFE) processing in asymptomatic, multi-concussion athletes during an EFE identification task. Methods: Forty control athletes (20 females and 20 males) and 43 multi-concussed athletes (22 females and 21 males), recruited more than 3 months after their last concussion, were tested. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory II, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, and an Emotional Facial Expression Identification Task. Pictures of male and female faces expressing neutral, angry, and happy emotions were randomly presented and the emotion depicted had to be identified as fast as possible during EEG acquisition. Results: Relative to controls, concussed athletes of both sex exhibited a significant suppression of P1 amplitude recorded from the dominant right hemisphere while performing the emotional face expression identification task. The present study also highlighted a sex-specific suppression of the N1 component amplitude after concussion which affected male athletes. Conclusions: These findings suggest that repeated concussions alter the typical pattern of right-hemisphere response dominance to EFE in early stages of EFE processing and that the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the processing of emotional stimuli are distinctively affected across sex. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1–11)

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Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Louis De Beaumont, Research Center, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, 5400 Blvd., Gouin O, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4J 1C5. E-mail:


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