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Psychiatry Res. 2006 Dec 1;148(2-3):75-92. Epub 2006 Nov 7.

Social brain dysfunctions in schizophrenia: a review of neuroimaging studies.

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Service de Psychiatrie Adulte, Inserm ERI 0015, Hôpital de Versailles, 177 route de Versailles, 78150 Le Chesnay, France.


Several studies have indicated that schizophrenic patients show impaired performance in various aspects of social cognition, including theory of mind, emotion processing, and agency judgments. Neuroimaging studies that have compared patients and healthy subjects during such mental activity indicate an abnormal hemodynamic response in the medial prefrontal cortex, the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, the inferior parietal lobe, i.e., a set of regions known to be critically involved in social cognition. This paper addresses a number of issues raised by schizophrenia research into theory of mind, emotion perception and self-agency with regards to the neural systems that mediate social cognition. In healthy subjects, typical brain patterns are associated with theory of mind, emotion perception and self-agency; some activated clusters overlap, while others are distinct. For instance, activations in the paracingulate gyrus are almost systematically associated with theory of mind tasks, while the amygdala is mainly involved in emotion perception tasks. Additional foci are frequently found activated during those tasks: superior temporal sulcus, inferior frontal area. Moreover, the inferior parietal lobe is thought to contribute to agency judgments. In the light of the data on brain abnormalities and neurochemical dysfunctions in schizophrenia, we discuss the interaction of social cognitive dysfunction with the supposed information processing abnormalities caused by dopamine dysregulation.

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