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.
Psychiatry Research 01/2011; 191(1):44-50. · 2.52 Impact Factor