Smoking history, and not depression, is related to deficits in detection of happy and sad faces
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Previous research has demonstrated that chronic cigarette smoking and major depressive disorder (MDD) are each associated with cognitive decrements. Further, these conditions co-occur commonly, though mechanisms in the comorbid condition are poorly understood. There may be distinct, additive, or overlapping factors underlying comorbid cigarette smoking and MDD. The present study investigated the impact of smoking and MDD on executive function and emotion processing. Participants (N=198) were grouped by diagnostic category (MDD and healthy controls, HC) and smoking status (ever-smokers, ES and never-smokers, NS). Participants completed the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT), a measure of emotional processing, and the parametric Go/No-go task (PGNG), a measure of executive function. FEPT performance was analyzed using ANCOVA with accuracy and reaction time as separate dependent variables. Repeated measures MANCOVA was conducted for PGNG with performance measure and task level as dependent variables. Analyses for each task included diagnostic and smoking group as independent variables, and gender was controlled for. Results for FEPT reveal lower overall accuracy was found for ES relative to NS, though MDD did not differ from HC. Post-hoc analyses revealed ES were poorer at identifying happy and sad, but not fearful or angry, faces. For PGNG, poorer performance was observed in MDD relative to HC in response time to Go targets, but there were no differences for ES and NS. Interaction of diagnosis and smoking group was not observed for performance on either task. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for distinctive cognitive decrements in smokers and individuals with depression.
facial affect perception