Assessing emotional processing difficulties in normotensive individuals with high and isolated blood pressure elevations

Meenakshi Shukla, Rakesh Pandey, Jennifer Y. F. Lau
Published Online:
29 Sep 2017
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 54 Issue 2

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This study examined the effect of sense modality (auditory/visual) on emotional dampening (reduced responsiveness to emotions with elevation in blood pressure). Fifty‐six normotensive participants were assessed on tasks requiring labelling and matching of emotions in faces and voices. Based on median split of systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP and DBP, respectively), participants were divided into low BP, high BP and isolated BP groups. On emotion‐labelling tasks, analysis revealed reduced emotion recognition in the high BP than the low BP group. On emotion‐matching tasks, reduced emotion recognition was noted in high and also isolated BP group as compared to low BP group for the task that required matching a visual target with one of the four auditory distractors. Our findings show for the first time that even isolated elevations in either SBP or DBP may result in emotional dampening. Furthermore, the study highlights that the emotional dampening effect generalises to explicit processing (labelling) of emotional information in both faces and voices—and that these effects tentatively occur during more pragmatic and covert (matching) emotion recognition processes too. These findings require replication in clinical hypertensives.

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