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Emotional scene processing in children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review

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“Impairments in emotional information processing are frequently reported in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at a voluntary, explicit level (e.g., emotion recognition) and at an involuntary, implicit level (e.g., emotional interference). Most of previous studies have used faces with emotional expressions, rarely examining other important sources of information usually co-occurring with faces in our every day experience. Here, we examined how the emotional content of an entire visual scene depicting real-world environments and situations is processed in ADHD. We systematically reviewed in PubMed, SCOPUS and ScienceDirect, using the PRISMA guidelines, empirical studies published in English until March 2019, about processing of visual scenes, with or without emotional content, in children and adolescents with ADHD. We included 17 studies among the 154 initially identified. Fifteen used scenes with emotional content (which was task-relevant in seven and irrelevant in eight studies) and two used scenes without emotional content. Even though the interpretation of the results differed according to the theoretical model of emotions of the study and the presence of comorbidity, differences in scene information processing between ADHD and typically developing children and adolescents were reported in all but one study. ADHD children and adolescents show difficulties in the processing of emotional information conveyed by visual scenes, which may stem from a stronger bottom-up impact of emotional stimuli in ADHD, increasing the emotional experience, and from core deficits of the disorder, decreasing the overall processing of the scene”.

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Correspondence to Anaïs Leroy.

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Leroy, A., Spotorno, S. & Faure, S. Emotional scene processing in children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01480-0

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  • ADHD
  • Children
  • Visual scenes
  • Emotion recognition
  • Emotional interference
  • Contextual information