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Schizophr Res. 2010 Aug;121(1-3):90-100. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2010.03.032.

Video-based quantification of body movement during social interaction indicates the severity of negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Switzerland.


In schizophrenia, nonverbal behavior, including body movement, is of theoretical and clinical importance. Although reduced nonverbal expressiveness is a major component of the negative symptoms encountered in schizophrenia, few studies have objectively assessed body movement during social interaction. In the present study, 378 brief, videotaped role-play scenes involving 27 stabilized outpatients diagnosed with paranoid-type schizophrenia were analyzed using Motion Energy Analysis (MEA). This method enables the objective measuring of body movement in conjunction with ordinary video recordings. Correlations between movement parameters (percentage of time in movement, movement speed) and symptom ratings from independent PANSS interviews were calculated. Movement parameters proved to be highly reliable. In keeping with predictions, reduced movement and movement speed correlated with negative symptoms. Accordingly, in patients who exhibited noticeable movement for less than 20% of the observation time, prominent negative symptoms were highly probable. As a control measure, the percentage of movement exhibited by the patients during role-play scenes was compared to that of their normal interactants. Patients with negative symptoms differed from normal interactants by showing significantly reduced head and body movement. Two specific positive symptoms were possibly related to movement parameters: suspiciousness tended to correlate with reduced head movement, and the expression of unusual thought content tended to relate to increased movement. Overall, a close and theoretically meaningful association between the objective movement parameters and the symptom profiles was found. MEA appears to be an objective, reliable and valid method for quantifying nonverbal behavior, an aspect which may furnish new insights into the processes related to reduced expressiveness in schizophrenia.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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