Child neglect is highly prevalent and associated with a series of biological and social consequences. Early neglect may alter the recognition of emotional faces, but its precise impact remains unclear. We aim to review and analyze data from recent literature about recognition and processing of facial expressions in individuals with history of childhood neglect. Methods:
We conducted a systematic review using PubMed, PsycINFO, ScIELO and EMBASE databases in the search of studies for the past 10 years. Results:
In total, 14 studies were selected and critically reviewed. A heterogeneity was detected across methods and sample frames. Results were mixed across studies. Different forms of alterations to perception of facial expressions were found across 12 studies. There was alteration to the recognition and processing of both positive and negative emotions, but for emotional face processing there was predominance in alteration toward negative emotions. Conclusions:
This is the first review to examine specifically the effects of early neglect experience as a prevalent condition of child maltreatment. The results of this review are inconclusive due to methodological diversity, implement of distinct instruments and differences in the composition of the samples. Despite these limitations, some studies support our hypothesis that individuals with history of early negligence may present alteration to the ability to perceive face expressions of emotions. The article brings relevant information that can help in the development of more effective therapeutic strategies to reduce the impact of neglect on the cognitive and emotional development of the child.
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