Neural correlates of the core facets of empathy in schizophrenia
ABSTRACT Empathy is a multidimensional construct composed of several components such as emotion recognition, emotional perspective taking and affective responsiveness. Even though patients with schizophrenia demonstrate deficits in all core components of this basic social ability, the neural underpinnings of these dysfunctions are less clear. Using fMRI, we analyzed data from 15 patients meeting the DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia and 15 matched healthy volunteers performing three separate paradigms tapping the core components of empathy, i.e. emotion recognition, perspective taking and affective responsiveness. Behavioral data analysis indicated a significant empathic deficit in patients, reflected in worse performance in all three domains. Analysis of functional data revealed hypoactivation in a fronto-temporo-parietal network including the amygdala in patients. Moreover, amygdala activation correlated negatively with severity of negative symptoms. The results suggest that schizophrenia patients not only suffer from a broad range of emotional deficits but also show cortical and subcortical abnormalities, extending previous findings on fronto-temporal cortical dysfunctions. Since empathy is related to psychosocial functioning and hence of high clinical relevance in schizophrenia, a more detailed understanding of the exact nature of these impairments is mandatory.
SourceAvailable from: Lydia Krabbendam[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Social neuroscience is a flourishing, interdisciplinary field that investigates the underlying biological processes of social cognition and behaviour. The recent application of social neuroscience to psychiatric research advances our understanding of various psychiatric illnesses that are characterized by impairments in social cognition and social functioning. In addition, the upcoming line of social neuroscience research provides new techniques to design and evaluate treatment interventions that are aimed at improving patients' social lives. This review provides a contemporary overview of social neuroscience in psychiatry. We draw together the major findings about the neural mechanisms of social cognitive processes directed at understanding others and social interactions in psychiatric illnesses and discuss their implications for future research and clinical practice.Psychological Medicine 10/2014; 45(06):1-21. DOI:10.1017/S0033291714002487 · 5.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Deficits in both empathy and cognition have been reported widely in patients with schizophrenia. However, little is known about how these deficits interact among such patients. In the present study, we used pain portraying pictures preceding a color-word Stroop task to investigate the effect of empathetic pain observation on cognition among patients with schizophrenia. Twenty patients with schizophrenia and twenty healthy controls were included. The control group showed increased Stroop facilitation and decreased interference during the empathetic pain condition compared with the non-empathetic condition. Although patients with schizophrenia exhibited deficits in cognition, they demonstrated a similar empathy effect to controls on Stroop facilitation, but a somewhat larger empathy effect on Stroop interference (a more decreased effect). In particular, the groups did not differ in either automatic or controlled processing during the non-empathetic condition, suggesting general rather than specific cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Together, we interpret our findings in terms of two opposing effects of empathy on cognition in schizophrenia, with possible neuromodulatory mechanism. Whereas prior studies showed empathy to be impaired, our outcomes indicate that at least some components of empathetic pain processing are preserved in such patients.European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00406-014-0565-x · 3.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Impairments in emotion recognition and psychosocial functioning are a robust phenomenon in schizophrenia and may affect motivational behavior, particularly during socio-emotional interactions. To characterize potential deficits and their interplay, we assessed social motivation covering various facets, such as implicit and explicit approach-avoidance tendencies to facial expressions, in 27 patients with schizophrenia (SZP) and 27 matched healthy controls (HC). Moreover, emotion recognition abilities as well as self-reported behavioral activation and inhibition were evaluated. Compared to HC, SZP exhibited less pronounced approach-avoidance ratings to happy and angry expressions along with prolonged reactions during automatic approach-avoidance. Although deficits in emotion recognition were replicated, these were not associated with alterations in social motivation. Together with additional connections between psychopathology and several approach-avoidance processes, these results identify motivational impairments in SZP and suggest a complex relationship between different aspects of social motivation. In the context of specialized interventions aimed at improving social cognitive abilities in SZP, the link between such dynamic measures, motivational profiles and functional outcomes warrants further investigations, which can provide important leverage points for treatment. Crucially, our findings present first insights into the assessment and identification of target features of social motivation.European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00406-015-0589-x · 3.36 Impact Factor