Emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and psychotic bipolar disorder: Findings from the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) study

  • Ruocco A
  • Reilly J
  • Rubin L
 et al. 
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Background: Difficulty recognizing facial emotions is an important social-cognitive deficit associated with psychotic disorders. It also may reflect a familial risk for psychosis in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder. Objective: The objectives of this study from the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) consortium were to: 1) compare emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder with psychosis, 2) determine the familiality of emotion recognition deficits across these disorders, and 3) evaluate emotion recognition deficits in nonpsychotic relatives with and without elevated Cluster A and Cluster B personality disorder traits. Method: Participants included probands with schizophrenia (n=. 297), schizoaffective disorder (depressed type, n=. 61; bipolar type, n=. 69), bipolar disorder with psychosis (n=. 248), their first-degree relatives (n=. 332, n=. 69, n=. 154, and n=. 286, respectively) and healthy controls (n=. 380). All participants completed the Penn Emotion Recognition Test, a standardized measure of facial emotion recognition assessing four basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger and fear) and neutral expressions (no emotion). Results: Compared to controls, emotion recognition deficits among probands increased progressively from bipolar disorder to schizoaffective disorder to schizophrenia. Proband and relative groups showed similar deficits perceiving angry and neutral faces, whereas deficits on fearful, happy and sad faces were primarily isolated to schizophrenia probands. Even non-psychotic relatives without elevated Cluster A or Cluster B personality disorder traits showed deficits on neutral and angry faces. Emotion recognition ability was moderately familial only in schizophrenia families. Conclusions: Emotion recognition deficits are prominent but somewhat different across psychotic disorders. These deficits are reflected to a lesser extent in relatives, particularly on angry and neutral faces. Deficits were evident in non-psychotic relatives even without elevated personality disorder traits. Deficits in facial emotion recognition may reflect an important social-cognitive deficit in patients with psychotic disorders. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Emotion recognition
  • Family study
  • Psychosis
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophrenia

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