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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug 15;35(7):1653-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2011.05.019. Epub 2011 May 30.

First rank symptoms & facial emotion recognition deficits in antipsychotic naïve schizophrenia: Implications for social threat perception model.

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Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, Bangalore, India.


Facial emotion recognition deficits (FERD) have been consistently demonstrated in schizophrenia. However the relation between psychopathology and FERD remains inconclusive. This could possibly be due to the wide heterogeneity in the psychopathology of schizophrenia. First Rank Symptoms (FRS) of schizophrenia is associated with heightened sense of paranoia and rapid processing of threatful emotional stimuli. We studied differences in patterns of FERD between homogenous sub-groups of antipsychotic naïve schizophrenia patients (n=63); namely those experiencing FRS (FRS+ group n=26) and those who did not (FRS- group n=37), in comparison to age-, sex-, education matched healthy controls (n=45). FERD was assessed using TRENDS - (Tool for Recognition of Emotions in Neuropsychiatric DisorderS), a culturally sensitive and ecologically valid (consisting of both static and dynamic emotional stimuli) tool. The total number of images of non threatful emotions (sad, happy, neutral) which were identified as any of the threatful emotions (fear, anger, disgust) and vice versa were calculated and termed TRENDS Over-identification and Under-identification score respectively. The patient group made significantly greater errors in emotion recognition as compared to healthy controls. On post hoc analysis (Tukey HSD) the patients in FRS+ group made significantly greater errors in Over-identification as compared to the FRS- group. This study supports that FERD is one of the important deficits in schizophrenia. There is a differential pattern of impairment in FERD, which supports the role of heightened threat perception in the evolution of psychopathology in schizophrenia patients.

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