Functional and Structural Deficits in Brain Regions Subserving Face Perception in Schizophrenia

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 12.3). 04/2006; 163(3):455-62. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.3.455
Source: PubMed


Schizophrenia impairs many cognitive functions, including face perception. Veridical face perception is critical for social interaction, including distinguishing friend from foe and familiar from unfamiliar faces. The main aim of this study was to determine whether patients with schizophrenia show less activation in neural networks related to face processing, compared with healthy subjects, and to investigate the relationships between this functional abnormality and anatomical abnormalities in the fusiform gyrus shown with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Twenty male chronic schizophrenia patients and 16 healthy comparison subjects matched with the patients for age, gender, handedness, and parental socioeconomic status underwent high-spatial-resolution MRI. Event-related potentials elicited by images of faces, cars, and hands were recorded in a separate session.
Compared to the healthy subjects, the patients with schizophrenia showed bilateral N170 amplitude reduction in response to images of faces but not to images of other objects. The patients also had smaller bilateral anterior and posterior fusiform gyrus gray matter volumes, compared to the healthy subjects. In addition, right posterior fusiform gyrus volume was significantly correlated with N170 amplitude measured at the right posterior temporal electrode site in response to images of faces in the schizophrenia patients but not in the healthy comparison subjects.
The results provide evidence for deficits in the early stages of face perception in schizophrenia. The association of these deficits with smaller fusiform gyrus volume in patients with schizophrenia, relative to healthy subjects, suggests that the fusiform gyrus is the site of a defective anatomical substrate for face processing in schizophrenia.

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    • "Similar to controls, relatives also demonstrated a thicker right fusiform than patients. Previous research has demonstrated smaller bilateral fusiform volumes in both first-episode [Lee et al., 2002] and chronic schizophrenia patients compared to controls [Onitsuka et al., 2003, 2006; Rimol et al., 2010]. A review of 15 voxel-based morphometry volume studies showed that approximately a quarter of the studies found abnormalities in the left fusiform and one study found abnormalities in the right fusiform [Honea et al., 2005]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia is associated with abnormalities in cortical thickness, including both thicker and thinner cortices than controls. Although less reliably than in patients, non-psychotic relatives of schizophrenia patients have also demonstrated both thicker and thinner cortices than controls, suggesting an effect of familial or genetic liability. We investigated cortical thickness in 25 schizophrenia patients, 26 adult non-psychotic first-degree biological relatives, and 23 community controls using the automated program FreeSurfer. Contrary to hypotheses, we found relatives of schizophrenia patients had greater cortical thickness in all lobes compared to patients and controls; however, this finding was not as widespread when compared to controls. In contrast, schizophrenia patients only demonstrated a thinner right fusiform region than controls and relatives. Our finding of greater thickness in adult biological relatives could represent a maladaptive abnormality or alternatively, a compensatory mechanism. Previous literature suggests that the nature of abnormalities in relatives can vary by the age of relatives and change across the developmental period. Abnormalities in patients may depend on lifestyle factors and on current and previous anti-psychotic medication use. Our results speak to the need to study various populations of patients and relatives across the lifespan to better understand different developmental periods and the impact of environmental factors. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics
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    • "Smaller N170 and VPP amplitudes, but not slower latencies, were consistently reported in Schizophrenia. In thirteen studies N170 or VPP amplitudes were smaller in Schizophrenia (Herrmann et al., 2004; Johnston et al., 2005; Onitsuka et al., 2006, 2009; Caharel et al., 2007; Turetsky et al., 2007; Lynn and Salisbury, 2008; Onitsuka et al., 2009; Lee et al., 2010; Ibáñez et al., 2012a,b; Kirihara et al., 2012; Tsunoda et al., 2012; Jetha et al., 2013). One study found smaller amplitudes at trend level (Wynn et al., 2013) and one other found smaller N170 amplitudes during a facial expression task but not a gender task (Bediou et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To systematically evaluate evidence for configural and affective face processing abnormalities as measured by the N170 and Vertex Positive Potential (VPP) event-related potential components, and analogous M170 magnetoencephalograpy (MEG) component, in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Methods 1251 unique articles were identified using PsychINFO and PubMed databases. Sixty-seven studies were selected for review, which employed various tasks to measure the N170, M170 or VPP; the 13 neurological/psychiatric conditions were Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Alcohol Dependence, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Fibromyalgia, Huntington’s Disease, Major Depressive Disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, Prosopagnosia, Schizophrenia and Social Phobia. Results Smaller N170 and VPP amplitudes to faces compared to healthy controls were consistently reported in Schizophrenia but not in ASDs. In Schizophrenia N170 and VPP measures were not correlated with clinical symptoms. Findings from other disorders were highly inconsistent; however, reported group differences were almost always smaller amplitudes or slower latencies to emotional faces in disordered groups regardless of diagnosis. Conclusions Results suggest that N170/VPP abnormalities index non-specific facial affect processing dysfunction in these neurological and psychiatric conditions, reflecting social impairments being broadly characteristic of these groups. Significance The N170 and analogous components hold promise as diagnostic and treatment monitoring biomarkers for social dysfunction.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Clinical Neurophysiology
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    • "An electrophysiological indicator of the face inversion effect is the N170 (Eimer, 2000), a negative potential seen using electroencephalography (EEG). The N170 is reduced in patients with schizophrenia while viewing inverted faces (Onitsuka et al., 2006; Ibáñez et al., 2012), and is associated with lower scores on measures of social functioning (Obayashi et al., 2009; Tsunoda et al., 2012). These findings suggest there may be an underlying face processing abnormality that may go undetected by commonly used behavioral measures. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is known that individuals with schizophrenia exhibit signs of impaired face processing, however, the exact perceptual and cognitive mechanisms underlying these deficits are yet to be elucidated. One possible source of confusion in the current literature is the methodological and conceptual inconsistencies that can arise from the varied treatment of different aspects of face processing relating to emotional and non-emotional aspects of face perception. This review aims to disentangle the literature by focusing on the performance of patients with schizophrenia in a range of tasks that required processing of non-emotional features of face stimuli (e.g., identity or gender). We also consider the performance of patients on non-face stimuli that share common elements such as familiarity (e.g., cars) and social relevance (e.g., gait). We conclude by exploring whether observed deficits are best considered as "face-specific" and note that further investigation is required to properly assess the potential contribution of more generalized attentional or perceptual impairments.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Frontiers in Psychology
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