Impaired facial emotion expression is central to schizophrenia. Extensive work has quantified these differences, but it remains unclear how patient expressions are perceived by their healthy peers and other non-trained individuals. This study examined how static facial expressions of posed and evoked emotions of patients and controls are recognized by naïve observers.
Facial photographs of 6 persons with stable schizophrenia and 6 matched healthy controls expressing five universal emotions (happy, sad, anger, fear, and disgust) and neutral were selected from a previous data set. Untrained raters (N=420) viewed each photo and identified the expressed emotion. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to assess differences in accuracy and error patterns between patient and control expressions.
Expressions from healthy individuals were more accurately identified than those from schizophrenia patients across all conditions, except for posed sadness and evoked neutral faces, in which groups did not differ, and posed fear, in which patient expressions were more accurately identified than control expressions. Analysis of incorrect responses revealed misidentifications as neutral were most common across both groups but significantly more likely among patients.
Present findings demonstrate that patient expressions of emotion are poorly perceived by naïve observers and support the concept of affective flattening in schizophrenia. These results highlight the real world implications of impairments in emotion expression and may shed light on potential mechanisms of impaired social functioning in schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More than 80 % of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are nicotine-dependent. Self-medication of cognitive deficits and an increased vulnerability to stress are discussed as promoting factors for the development of nicotine dependence. However, the effects of nicotine on social cognition and subjective stress responses in schizophrenia are largely unexplored. A 2 × 2-factorial design (drug × group) was used to investigate the effects of nicotine versus placebo in smoking schizophrenia patients and healthy controls after 24 h of abstinence from smoking. Participants performed a facial affect recognition task and a semi-standardized role-play task, after which social competence and self-reported stress during social interaction were assessed. Data analysis revealed no significant group differences in the facial affect recognition task. During social interaction, healthy controls showed more non-verbal expressions and a lower subjective stress level than schizophrenia patients. There were no significant effects of nicotine in terms of an enhanced recognition of facial affect, more expressive behaviour or reduced subjective stress during social interaction. While schizophrenia patients unexpectedly recognized facial affect not significantly worse than healthy controls, the observed group differences in subjective stress and non-verbal expression during social interaction in the role-play situation are in line with previous findings. Contrary to expectations derived from the self-medication hypothesis, nicotine showed no significant effects on the dependent variables, perhaps because of the dosage used and the delay between the administration of nicotine and the performance of the role-play.
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 10/2012; 263(6). DOI:10.1007/s00406-012-0377-9 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the emotion recognition in familiar and unknown faces in a sample of schizophrenic patients and healthy controls.
Face emotion recognition of 18 outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia (DSM-IVTR) and 18 healthy volunteers was assessed with two Emotion Recognition Tasks using familiar faces and unknown faces. Each subject was accompanied by 4 familiar people (parents, siblings or friends), which were photographed by expressing the 6 Ekman's basic emotions. Face emotion recognition in familiar faces was assessed with this ad hoc instrument. In each case, the patient scored (from 1 to 10) the subjective familiarity and affective valence corresponding to each person.
Patients with schizophrenia not only showed a deficit in the recognition of emotions on unknown faces (p=.01), but they also showed an even more pronounced deficit on familiar faces (p=.001). Controls had a similar success rate in the unknown faces task (mean: 18 +/- 2.2) and the familiar face task (mean: 17.4 +/- 3). However, patients had a significantly lower score in the familiar faces task (mean: 13.2 +/- 3.8) than in the unknown faces task (mean: 16 +/- 2.4; p<.05). In both tests, the highest number of errors was with emotions of anger and fear. Subjectively, the patient group showed a lower level of familiarity and emotional valence to their respective relatives (p<.01).
The sense of familiarity may be a factor involved in the face emotion recognition and it may be disturbed in schizophrenia.
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