Brain dysfunctions during facial discrimination in schizophrenia: Selective association to affect decoding

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA, Los Angeles CA 90095, USA.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.68). 01/2011; 191(1):44-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.09.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Schizophrenia patients exhibit impaired facial affect perception, yet the exact nature of this impairment remains unclear. We investigated neural activity related to processing facial emotional and non-emotional information and complex images in 12 schizophrenia patients and 15 healthy controls using functional magnetic resonance imaging. All subjects performed a facial information processing task with three conditions: matching facial emotion, matching facial identity, and matching complex visual patterns. Patients and controls showed comparable behavioral performance in all task conditions. The neural activation patterns in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls were distinctly different while processing affect-related facial information but not other non-emotional facial features. During emotion matching, orbital frontal cortex and left amydala activations were found in controls but not in patients. When comparing emotion versus identity matching, controls activated the fusiform and middle temporal gyri, left superior temporal gyrus, and right inferior and middle frontal gyrus, whereas schizophrenia patients only activated the middle and inferior frontal gyri, the frontal operculi and the right insular cortex. Our findings suggest that schizophrenia patients and healthy controls may utilize different neural networks when processing facial emotional information.

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    • "However, while changes in amygdala activation were observed irrespective of task, the fusiform gyrus was less activated only in explicit tasks. Similar results are reported in a recent study by Quintana et al. (2011), who report underactivation in the fusiform gyrus only when attention is directed to emotional features of a stimulus. These findings further support the notion that at least two separate systems are impaired in emotion processing in patients with schizophrenia: a fast, pre-attentive system , involving the amygdala and its surrounding network , and, at least in visual emotion perception, an attention-modulated system, which also seems deficient but is only involved when participants have to consciously process facial features. "
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