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Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jan 15;71(2):136-45. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Oct 11.

Meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of emotion perception and experience in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2700, USA.



Neuroimaging studies of emotion in schizophrenia have reported abnormalities in amygdala and other regions, although divergent results and heterogeneous paradigms complicate conclusions from single experiments. To identify more consistent patterns of dysfunction, a meta-analysis of functional imaging studies of emotion was undertaken.


Searching Medline and PsycINFO databases through January 2011, 88 potential articles were identified, of which 26 met inclusion criteria, comprising 450 patients with schizophrenia and 422 healthy comparison subjects. Contrasts were selected to include emotion perception and emotion experience. Foci from individual studies were subjected to a voxelwise meta-analysis using multilevel kernel density analysis.


For emotional experience, comparison subjects showed greater activation in the left occipital pole. For emotional perception, schizophrenia subjects showed reduced activation in bilateral amygdala, visual processing areas, anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral frontal cortex, medial frontal cortex, and subcortical structures. Schizophrenia subjects showed greater activation in the cuneus, parietal lobule, precentral gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus. Combining across studies and eliminating studies that did not balance on effort and stimulus complexity eliminated most differences in visual processing regions as well as most areas where schizophrenia subjects showed a greater signal. Reduced reactivity of the amygdala appeared primarily in implicit studies of emotion, whereas deficits in anterior cingulate cortex activity appeared throughout all contrasts.


Processing emotional stimuli, schizophrenia patients show reduced activation in areas engaged by emotional stimuli, although in some conditions, schizophrenia patients exhibit increased activation in areas outside those traditionally associated with emotion, possibly representing compensatory processing.

Copyright © 2012 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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