The majority of functional neuroimaging studies investigating neural correlates of emotion processing in schizophrenia report a significant deficit in limbic structures activation in patients relative to control participants. Recently it has been suggested that this apparent “deficit” could be due to an enhanced sensitivity of the neutral material in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, rather than due to their inefficiency in emotion processing. The purpose of the present study was to test this supposition and verify if the potential effect is present in both men and women diagnosed with schizophrenia. In order to do that we examined the pattern of cerebral activation associated with processing of neutral stimuli in schizophrenia. Thirty-seven schizophrenia patients and 37 healthy controls viewed neutral and emotional images while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Schizophrenia patients rated the neutral images as more emotionally salient than controls. Additionally, patients showed significant activation during processing of neutral images in limbic and prefrontal regions; similar areas were underactivated in patients relative to controls during processing of emotional information. Investigation of sex differences revealed that the enhanced responsiveness to the emotionally neutral material was attributed primarily to men with schizophrenia.
Lakis, N., & Mendrek, A. (2013). Individuals Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Assign Emotional Importance to Neutral Stimuli: An fMRI Study. ISRN Psychiatry, 2013, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/965428