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Basic Emotion Recognition and Psychopathology in Schizophrenia

Larøi, Frank PhD*†; Fonteneau, Benjamin MSc*; Mourad, Haitham MD; Raballo, Andrea MD‡§¶

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 2010 - Volume 198 - Issue 1 - p 79-81
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181c84cb0
Brief Report

Socio-emotional competence is a key aspect of schizophrenia, both in terms of psychopathological vulnerability and outcome. In this respect, current research increasingly emphasizes the importance of deficits in facial expression recognition. The focus of the present study is the performance in recognizing 6 basic emotions (sadness, anger, happiness, fear, disgust, surprise) which play an essential role in shaping daily function and interpersonal interactions. A group of 20 patients diagnosed with DSM-IV schizophrenia were compared with a group of 20 matched controls on a facial expression recognition task, derived from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (Lundqvist D, Flykt A, Öhmann A (1998) The Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (KDEF). Stockholm (Sweden): Karolinska Institute), and were subsequently assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Facial expression recognition performance was significantly more impaired in patients, and was selectively correlated with the positive and cognitive dimensions of the positive and negative syndrome scale. Furthermore, significant group differences were found with respect to happiness and surprise.

*Cognitive Psychopathology Unit, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium; †Intercommunale de Soins Spécialisés de Liège (Mental Health Sector), Liège, Belgium; ‡Danish National Research Foundation, Centre for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; §Department of Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark; and ¶Department of Mental Health, AUSL di Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Supported by grant from the EU Marie Curie Research Training Network 035975 “DISCOS—Disorders and Coherence of the Embodied Self” (to A.R.).

Send reprint requests to Frank Larøi, PhD, Cognitive Psychopathology Unit, Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of Liège, Bd. du Rectorat (B33), B-4000 Liège, Belgium. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.