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Br J Clin Psychol. 1989 Feb;28 ( Pt 1):19-29.

Schizophrenic inability to judge facial emotion: a controlled study.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College Hospital, London.


The ability of schizophrenics to judge facial emotion was examined using a new test derived to remedy methodological inadequacies in previous studies. The derivation procedure of the test is described. Five groups of 20 subjects each took part: acute schizophrenics, chronic schizophrenics, schizophrenics in remission, in-patients with depressive illness and normal subjects. They were asked to make a dichotomous emotion judgement ('happy' or 'sad') about a set of photographed faces: and then to make a dichotomous non-emotion judgement ('old' or 'young') on a set of photographs chosen from the same original pool to form a task of equal difficulty and discriminating ability. It was predicted, from previous studies, that acute schizophrenics would be specifically impaired on judging emotional expression in faces. Instead, they were found to be impaired on both an emotion and a non-emotion task on photographs of faces when these tasks were matched for difficulty and discriminating ability. They were significantly worse than remitted schizophrenics and normal subjects for both tasks, and for emotion, significantly worse then depressed subjects as well. The findings are considered in the light of current theories of visual processing in schizophrenia and of the neuropsychology of face processing.

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