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Schizophr Res. 2013 Jan;143(1):65-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.11.005. Epub 2012 Dec 4.

Emotion recognition impairment is present early and is stable throughout the course of schizophrenia.

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NESMOS Department (Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sense Organs) Unit of Psychiatry, Sant'Andrea Hospital, School of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.


Individuals with schizophrenia experience problems in the perception of emotion throughout the course of the disorder. Few studies have addressed the progression of the deficit over time. The present investigation explores face emotion recognition (FER) performance throughout the course of schizophrenia. The aim of the study was to test the hypotheses that: 1) FER impairment was present in ultra high-risk (putatively prodromal) individuals, and that 2) impairment was stable across the course of the illness. Forty-three individuals with a putative prodromal syndrome, 50 patients with first episode of schizophrenia, 44 patients with multi-episode schizophrenia and 86 unaffected healthy control subjects were assessed to examine emotion recognition ability. ANCOVA analysis adjusted for possible confounder factors and subsequent planned contrasts with healthy controls was undertaken. The results revealed deficits in recognition of sadness and disgust in prodromal individuals, and of all negative emotions in both first-episode and multi-episode patients. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between clinical groups. Within the framework of the neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia, our results suggest the presence of emotional recognition impairment before the onset of full-blown psychosis. Moreover, the deficit remains stable over the course of illness, fitting the pattern of a vulnerability indicator in contrast to an indicator of chronicity or severity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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