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Schizophr Res. 2004 Jun 1;68(2-3):271-81.

Emotional processing in a non-clinical psychosis-prone sample.

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Helmholtz Research Instituut, Psychological Laboratory, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Symptoms of psychosis have been proposed to form part of a continuous distribution of experiences in the general population rather than being an all-or-nothing phenomenon. Indeed, schizotypal signs have been reported in subjects from non-clinical samples. Emotional processing has been documented to be deficient in schizophrenia. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis whether putatively psychosis-prone subjects would show abnormalities in emotion processing. Based on the extremes of Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale (LSHS) ratings of 200 undergraduate students, two groups of subjects (total N=40) were selected. All 40 participants filled in the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ). We compared both groups on an alexithymia questionnaire and on four behavioral emotional information processing tasks. Hallucination-proneness was associated with an increased subjective emotional arousal and fantasy-proneness. Although no differences between the high and low group were observed on three behavioral emotion processing tasks, on the affective word-priming task presentation of emotional stimuli was associated with longer reactions times to neutral words in high schizotypal subjects. Also, SPQ scores correlated with several emotion processing tasks. We conclude that these findings lend partial support to the hypothesis of continuity between symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia and psychosis-related phenomena in the normal population.

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