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Front Behav Neurosci. 2015 May 27;9:133. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00133. eCollection 2015.

Dimensional schizotypy and social cognition: an fMRI imaging study.

Author information

1
Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, China.
2
School of Health Management, Guangzhou Medical University Guangzhou, China.
3
Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, China ; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, China.
4
Department of Radiology, Guangzhou First People's Hospital Guangzhou, China.
5
Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.
6
Castle Peak Hospital Hong Kong, China.

Abstract

Impairment in empathy has been demonstrated in patients with schizophrenia and individuals with psychosis proneness. In the present study, we examined the neural correlates underlying theory of mind (ToM) and empathy and the relationships between these two social cognitive abilities with schizotypy. Fifty-six first-year college students (31 males, 25 females) between 17 and 21 years of age (M = 19.3, SD = 0.9) from a medical university in China participated. All participants undertook a comic strips functional imaging task that specifically examined both empathy and ToM. In addition, they completed two self-report scales: the Chapman Psychosis Proneness scale and the Interpersonal Responsivity Index (IRI). Results showed that both empathy and ToM conditions of the task were associated with brain activity in the middle temporal gyrus, the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), the precuneus and the posterior cingulate gyrus. In addition, we found positive correlations between negative schizotypy and brain activity in regions involved in social cognition, namely, the middle temporal gyrus, the TPJ, as well as the medial prefrontal gyrus. These findings highlight that different dimensions of schizotypy may show different associations with brain regions involved in social cognitive abilities. More importantly, the positive correlation between brain activity and anhedonia suggests the presence of compensatory mechanisms in high-risk populations.

KEYWORDS:

anhedonia; empathy; fMRI; schizotypy; theory of mind

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