This is part of the research proposal for the Neuropsychology of Abnormal Behaviour class I am taking (part of the introduction). For more information on automatic amygdala activation to emotional faces in Schizophrenia patients compared to healthy participants consult:

Rauch, V.A., Reker, M., Ohrmann, P., Pedersen, A., Bauer, J., Dannlowski, U., Harding, L.,Koelkebeck, K., Konrad, C., Kugel, H., Arolt, V., Heindel, W., Suslow, T. (2010). Increased amygdala activation during automatic processing of facial emotion in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 182 (2010) 200–206

Disturbance in emotion is an important feature of schizophrenia patients (Bleuler, 1950). Over the past decade there has been increasing information about the impairment schizophrenic patients have in the perception of emotions that are expressed by others (Edwards et al., 2002). However, recently there has been more attention paid to facial emotion recognition in these patients and it has been found that patients suffering from schizophrenia have consistently shown impairments in the perception of facial expressions of emotions (Schneider et al., 1998; Phillips et al., 1999; Holt et al., 2006; Das et al., 2007). Facial expressions serve as important social signals regarding current or forthcoming environmental conditions (Kee et al., 2003). It is therefore non surprising that deficits in facial emotion recognition has been seen to play an important role in the psychological outcome of schizophrenia patients (Kee et al., 2003).

Brain structures implicated in facial emotion recognition include the amygdala, the fusiform gyrus and the superior temporal sulcus (Adolphs, 2002). In a 2002 study conducted by Kosaka and colleagues, heightened amygdala activation was found in schizophrenia patients during controlled emotional processing. In another study, Holt and colleagues (2006) also found that within an experiment, schizophrenia patients show greater amygdala activation in comparison to control participants during first encounters with fearful and neutral faces.

However few studies have investigated automatic emotion processing in schizophrenia patients but have instead focused on controlled processing. A recent study, Rauch and colleagues (2010) investigated automatic emotion processing in schizophrenia patients. Their study was created using the emotion-congruent influence of facial expressions shown below conscious awareness on subsequent judgments regarding neutral stimuli (an important characteristic of automatic emotion processing) (Niedenthal, 1990; Murphy and Zajonc, 1993; Rotteveel et al., 2001). While using a 3-T fMRI to examine amygdala responses to sad and happy faces masked by neutral faces in 12 schizophrenia patients and 12 healthy controls, it was found that there was greater automatic amygdala responses to sad and happy faces in shizophrenia patients relative to controls. More interestingly with regard to clinical symptomatology, amygdala responses to masked sad and happy faces were positively correlated with the negative subscale of the PANSS (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale; Kay, Opler & Abraham Fiszbein, 1987).


Stanley Workman said...

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