Emotional face processing deficit in schizophrenia: A replication study in a South African Xhosa population

Leppanen J.M. ; Niehaus D.J.H. ; Koen L. ; Du Toit E. ; Schoeman R. ; Emsley R. (2006)


Schizophrenia is associated with a deficit in the recognition of negative emotions from facial expressions. The present study examined the universality of this finding by studying facial expression recognition in African Xhosa population. Forty-four Xhosa patients with schizophrenia and forty healthy controls were tested with a computerized task requiring rapid perceptual discrimination of matched positive (i.e. happy), negative (i.e. angry), and neutral faces. Patients were equally accurate as controls in recognizing happy faces but showed a marked impairment in recognition of angry faces. The impairment was particularly pronounced for high-intensity (open-mouth) angry faces. Patients also exhibited more false happy and angry responses to neutral faces than controls. No correlation between level of education or illness duration and emotion recognition was found but the deficit in the recognition of negative emotions was more pronounced in familial compared to non-familial cases of schizophrenia. These findings suggest that the deficit in the recognition of negative facial expressions may constitute a universal neurocognitive marker of schizophrenia. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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