Empathic accuracy and cognition in schizotypal personality disorder.
ABSTRACT Interpersonal dysfunction contributes to significant disability in the schizophrenia spectrum. Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) is a schizophrenia-related personality demonstrating social cognitive impairment in the absence of frank psychosis. Past research indicates that cognitive dysfunction or schizotypy may account for social cognitive dysfunction in this population. We tested SPD subjects and healthy controls on the Empathic Accuracy (EA) paradigm and the Reading of the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), assessing the impact of EA on social support. We also explored whether EA differences could be explained by intelligence, working memory, trait empathy, or attachment avoidance. SPD subjects did not differ from controls in RMET, but demonstrated lower EA during negative valence videos, associated with lower social support. Dynamic, multimodal EA paradigms may be more effective at capturing interpersonal dysfunction than static image tasks such as RMET. Schizotypal severity, trait empathy, and cognitive dysfunction did not account for empathic dysfunction in SPD, although attachment avoidance is related to empathic differences. Empathic dysfunction for negative affect contributes to decreased social support in the schizophrenia spectrum. Future research may shed further light on potential links between attachment avoidance, empathic dysfunction, and social support.
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ABSTRACT: The study of schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) is important clinically, as it is understudied, challenging to treat, often under-recognized or misdiagnosed, and associated with significant functional impairment. SPD also represents an intermediate schizophrenia-spectrum phenotype, and therefore, can provide a better understanding of the genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment of related psychotic illnesses. In this review we discuss recent findings of SPD related to epidemiology and functional impairment, heritability and genetics, working memory and cognitive impairments, social-affective disturbances, and neurobiology. Additionally, we examine the challenges associated with treating patients with SPD, as well as clinical recommendations. Finally, we address future directions and areas in need of further exploration.Current Psychiatry Reports 07/2014; 16(7):452. DOI:10.1007/s11920-014-0452-1 · 3.05 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Impairments in social cognition are now recognized as core illness features in psychotic and affective disorders. Despite the significant disability caused by social cognitive abnormalities, treatments for this symptom dimension are lacking. Here, we describe the evidence demonstrating abnormalities in social cognition in schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder, as well as the neurobiology of social cognition including the role of oxytocin. We then review clinical trials of oxytocin administration in psychotic and affective disorders and the impact of this agent on social cognition. To date, several studies have demonstrated that oxytocin may improve social cognition in schizophrenia; too few studies have been conducted in affective disorders to determine the effect of oxytocin on social cognition in these disorders. Future work is needed to clarify which aspects of social cognition may be improved with oxytocin treatment in psychotic and affective disorders.European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 08/2014; 25(2). DOI:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.07.012 · 5.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Empathic accuracy is the ability to correctly identify others' thoughts and feelings. Based on evidence from past laboratory experiments, researchers concluded that this ability decreases throughout adulthood. This conclusion, however, was mostly based on evidence regarding isolated components of the ability to read others' thoughts and feelings (e.g., inferring thoughts or feelings from facial expressions presented without context). In contrast, empathic accuracy involves the integration of a multitude of such inferences from diverse sources of information that are available in everyday interactions (e.g., facial and bodily expressions, prosody, communication content, situational context, etc.). To strengthen empirical evidence on age differences in this integrative ability, we assessed empathic accuracy in dyadic interactions between 102 younger (20-31 years) and 106 older (69-80 years) women, paired in same-age or mixed-age dyads. In these interactions, older women were only less empathically accurate than younger women when judging their interaction partner's negative feelings and when judging thoughts that accompanied experiences of negative affect. In contrast, there were no age differences in empathic accuracy for positive feelings and for thoughts accompanying experiences of positive affect. These results were independent of the age of the interaction partner. The current study thus provides further evidence that age differences in empathic accuracy (a) may be qualified by situational properties, such as valence of inferred content, and (b) can be less pronounced when integration of multiple sources of information is possible than research investigating isolated information channels has thus far suggested. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).Psychology and Aging 12/2014; 30(1). DOI:10.1037/a0038459 · 2.73 Impact Factor