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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 17;34(2):393-400. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.01.007. Epub 2010 Jan 15.

Facial emotion perception in Chinese patients with schizophrenia and non-psychotic first-degree relatives.

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Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Although there is a consensus that patients with schizophrenia have certain deficits in perceiving and expressing facial emotions, previous studies of facial emotion perception in schizophrenia do not present consistent results. The objective of this study was to explore facial emotion perception deficits in Chinese patients with schizophrenia and their non-psychotic first-degree relatives. Sixty-nine patients with schizophrenia, 56 of their first-degree relatives (33 parents and 23 siblings), and 92 healthy controls (67 younger healthy controls matched to the patients and siblings, and 25 older healthy controls matched to the parents) completed a set of facial emotion perception tasks, including facial emotion discrimination, identification, intensity, valence, and corresponding face identification tasks. The results demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia performed significantly worse than their siblings and younger healthy controls in accuracy in a variety of facial emotion perception tasks, whereas the siblings of the patients performed as well as the corresponding younger healthy controls in all of the facial emotion perception tasks. Patients with schizophrenia also showed significantly reduced speed than younger healthy controls, while siblings of patients did not demonstrate significant differences with both patients and younger healthy controls in speed. Meanwhile, we also found that parents of the schizophrenia patients performed significantly worse than the corresponding older healthy controls in accuracy in terms of facial emotion identification, valence, and the composite index of the facial discrimination, identification, intensity and valence tasks. Moreover, no significant differences were found between the parents of patients and older healthy controls in speed after controlling the years of education and IQ. Taken together, the results suggest that facial emotion perception deficits may serve as potential endophenotypes for schizophrenia.

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