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Schizophr Res. 2015 Mar;162(1-3):52-6. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2015.01.022. Epub 2015 Jan 22.

Endogenous oxytocin levels are associated with the perception of emotion in dynamic body expressions in schizophrenia.

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State University of New York at Binghamton, Department of Psychology, USA. Electronic address:
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, USA.
State University of New York at Binghamton, Department of Psychology, USA.


Lower endogenous oxytocin levels have been associated with impaired social cognition in schizophrenia, particularly facial affect identification. Little is known about the relationship between oxytocin and other forms of emotion perception. In the current study, 41 individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) and 22 demographically matched healthy controls (CN) completed a forced-choice affective body expression classification task. Stimuli included dynamic videos of male and female actors portraying 4 discrete emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, and neutral. Plasma oxytocin levels were determined via radioimmunoassay. Results indicated that SZ had significantly higher plasma oxytocin concentrations than CN. SZ were also less accurate at identifying expressions of happiness and sadness; however, there were no group differences for anger or neutral stimuli. A group×sex interaction was also present, such that female CN were more accurate than male CN, whereas male SZ were more accurate than female SZ. Higher endogenous oxytocin levels were associated with better total recognition in both SZ and CN; this association was specific to females in SZ. Findings indicate that sex plays an important role in identifying emotional expressions in body gestures in SZ, and that individual differences in endogenous oxytocin predict emotion perception accuracy.


Emotion; Emotion perception; Oxytocin; Psychosis; Schizophrenia

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