Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Abnorm Psychol. 2011 Nov;120(4):993-8. doi: 10.1037/a0023542. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Emotion-cognition interaction in people at familial high risk for schizophrenia: the impact of sex differences.

Author information

  • 1Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, USA.


Cognitive deficits are fundamental to schizophrenia, and research suggests that negative emotion abnormally interferes with certain cognitive processes in those with the illness. To a lesser extent, cognitive impairment is found in persons at risk for schizophrenia, but there is limited research on the impact of emotion on cognitive processing in at-risk groups. It is unknown whether interference of negative emotion precedes illness and contributes to vulnerability for the disorder. We studied the extent to which negative emotional information interferes with working memory in 21 adolescent and young adult first-degree relatives of people with schizophrenia and 22 community controls. Groups were comparable in age, sex, education, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Primary measures were n-back tasks varying in cognitive load (1-back, 2-back, 3-back) with emotional faces (neutral, happy, fearful) as stimuli. The control group's response times (RTs) and the women's RTs, regardless of group, differed depending on the emotion condition. In contrast, the RTs of the relatives and of the men, regardless of group, did not differ by emotion. This study is the first to examine emotion-cognition interactions in relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. Reduced efficiency in processing emotional information may contribute to a greater vulnerability for schizophrenia that may be heightened in men. Additional research with larger samples of men and women is needed to test these preliminary findings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Psychological Association
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk