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Accumulating evidence has shown that a polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin-transporter (5-HTTLPR) modulates neural activation during the perceptual processing of emotional facial expressions. Furthermore, behavioral research has shown that attentional bias for negative information is increased in s allele carriers. We examined the interactions among 5-HTTLPR (including SNP rs25531), life events and gender on the detection of facial emotions. We found a main effect of genotype, as well as moderating effects of childhood emotional abuse (CEA) and recent life events (RLE). S homozygous participants recognized negative facial expressions at a lower intensity than the other genotype groups. This effect was more evident in female participants and in participants who had experienced life events. The 5-HTTLPR genotype affects facial emotional perception, a process which is linked to a neurobiological response to threat and vulnerability to emotional disorders.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





303 - 313


Adolescent, Adult, Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Emotions, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genotype, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Mood Disorders, Perceptual Disorders, Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins, Sex Characteristics, Sex Factors, Stress, Psychological, Young Adult