Anabolic androgenic steroid dependence is associated with impaired emotion recognition

Anabolic androgenic steroid dependence is associated with impaired emotion recognition / Lisa E. Hauger, Dominic Sagoe, Anja Vaskinn Espen A. Arnevik, Siri Leknes, Marie L. Jørstad, Astrid Bjørnebekk. - (Psychopharmacology (2019) 2 April; p. 1-10).

  • PMID: 30941469.
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00213-019-05239-7


Illicit use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) has grown into a serious public health concern throughout the Western World. AAS use is associated with adverse medical, psychological, and social consequences. Around 30% of AAS users develop a dependence syndrome with sustained use despite adverse side effects. AAS dependence is associated with a high frequency of intra- and interpersonal problems, and it is central to identify factors related to the development and maintenance of dependence.

The present study investigated the ability to recognize emotion from biological motion. The emotional biological motion task was administered to male AAS dependent users (AAS dependents; n = 45), AAS non-dependent users (AAS non-dependents; n = 38) and a comparison-group of non-using weightlifters (non-users; n = 69).

Multivariate analysis of variance showed a general impairment in emotion recognition in AAS dependents, compared to the non-using weightlifters, whereas no significant impairment was observed in AAS non-dependents. Furthermore, AAS dependents showed impaired recognition of fearful stimuli compared to both AAS non-dependents and non-using weightlifters. The between-group effect remained significant after controlling for Intelligence Quotient (IQ), past 6 months of non-AAS drug use, antisocial personality problems, anxiety, and depression.

AAS dependents show impaired emotion recognition from body movement, fear in particular, which could potentially contribute to higher frequency of interpersonal problems and antisocial behaviors in this population.


Anabolic androgenic steroids; Body language; Dependence; Emotion processing; Emotion recognition; Social cognition; Testosterone


Research / Study
2 April 2019
Arnevik, Espen A.
Bjørnebekk, Astrid
Hauger, Lisa E.
Jørstad, Marie Lindvik
Leknes, Siri
Sagoe, Dominic
Vaskinn, Anja
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Oslo universitetssykehus HF - Oslo University Hospital
Universitetet i Bergen - University of Bergen
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S1. Anabolic Agents
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Addiction / dependence
Health effects
Psychiatric disorders
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Date generated
27 March 2019
Date of last modification
2 December 2021
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