Remediation of facial emotion perception in schizophrenia: Concomitant changes in visual attention

Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, 2109, Australia.
Schizophrenia Research (Impact Factor: 3.92). 07/2008; 103(1-3):248-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2008.04.033
Source: PubMed


The study examined changes in visual attention in schizophrenia following training with a social-cognitive remediation package designed to improve facial emotion recognition (the Micro-Expression Training Tool; METT). Forty out-patients with schizophrenia were randomly allocated to active training (METT; n=26), or repeated exposure (RE; n=14); all completed an emotion recognition task with concurrent eye movement recording. Emotion recognition accuracy was significantly improved in the METT group, and this effect was maintained after one week. Immediately following training, the METT group directed more eye movements within feature areas of faces (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth) compared to the RE group. The number of fixations directed to feature areas of faces was positively associated with emotion recognition accuracy prior to training. After one week, the differences between METT and RE groups in viewing feature areas of faces were reduced to trends. However, within group analyses of the METT group revealed significantly increased number of fixations to, and dwell time within, feature areas following training which were maintained after one week. These results provide the first evidence that improvements in emotion recognition following METT training are associated with changes in visual attention to the feature areas of emotional faces. These findings support the contribution of visual attention abnormalities to emotion recognition impairment in schizophrenia, and suggest that one mechanism for improving emotion recognition involves re-directing visual attention to relevant features of emotional faces.

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    • "rbances . Therefore , remediation techniques which train participants to focus on the correct areas of the face may be beneficial in AN . These techniques have proven useful in other psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia , with trained individuals demonstrating an improvement in attention to salient facial features and emotion recognition ( Russell et al . , 2008 ; Marsh et al . , 2012 ) . Furthermore , the majority of deficits reported in the current study were specific to the processing of self - images in AN ."
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    ABSTRACT: Whether individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) are able to accurately perceive emotions from faces of others is unclear. Furthermore, whether individuals with AN process images of their own face differently to healthy individuals has thus far not been investigated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate facial affect processing and the processing of one's own face through measures of emotion identification, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and eyetracking. Twenty-four females with AN and 25 matched healthy control participants were presented with an implicit emotion processing task during fMRI and eyetracking, followed by an explicit emotion identification task. The AN group were found to 'hyperscan' stimuli and avoided visually attending to salient features of their own face images. RESULTS of the fMRI revealed increased activity to own face stimuli in AN in the right inferior and middle temporal gyri, and right lingual gyrus. AN participants were not found to display emotion identification deficits to the standard emotional face stimuli. The findings are discussed in terms of increased anxiety to disorder-relevant stimuli in AN. Potential clinical implications are discussed in relation to the use of eyetracking techniques to improve the perception of self in AN.
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2015; 6:1181. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01181 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "One of the ways of coping with stress is to employ strategies. There is evidence that psychological interventions that deal with focusing attention and gaining control over mental experiences such as auditory hallucinations can reduce distress caused by symptoms (Shergill et al., 1998; Russell et al., 2008; Marsh et al., 2010). However, impaired cognitive performance may hamper this effort. "
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    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 05/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00282 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "happy). Russell et al. (2008) and Marsh et al. (2012) evaluated changes in visual scanpath after applying the remediation program METT, which trains affect recognition via explicit attention-shaping processes. In accordance with the results of our study, improvements in performance were accompanied by changes in the fixation patterns, but both aspects were uncorrelated. "
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