Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Dynamics of Alpha Oscillations Elucidate Facial Affect Recognition in Schizophrenia

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Dynamics of Alpha Oscillations Elucidate Facial Affect Recognition in Schizophrenia

Article excerpt

Abstract Impaired facial affect recognition is characteristic of schizophrenia and has been related to impaired social function, but the relevant neural mechanisms have not been fully identified. The present study sought to identify the role of oscillatory alpha activity in that deficit during the process of facial emotion recognition. Neuromagnetic brain activity was monitored while 44 schizophrenia patients and 44 healthy controls viewed 5-s videos showing human faces gradually changing from neutral to fearful or happy expressions or from the neutral face of one poser to the neutral face of another. Recognition performance was determined separately by self-report. Relative to prestimulus baseline, controls exhibited a 10- to 15-Hz power increase prior to full recognition and a 10- to 15-Hz power decrease during the postrecognition phase. These results support recent proposals about the function of alpha-band oscillations in normal stimulus evaluation. The patients failed to show this sequence of alpha power increase and decrease and also showed low 10- to 15-Hz power and high 10- to 15-Hz connectivity during the prestimulus baseline. In light of the proposal that a combination of alpha power increase and functional disconnection facilitates information intake and processing, the finding of an abnormal association of low baseline alpha power and high connectivity in schizophrenia suggests a state of impaired readiness that fosters abnormal dynamics during facial affect recognition.

Keywords Schizophrenia . Facial affect recognition . Alpha oscillations . Emotion . Event processing . Functional connectivity . Neural networks

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Schizophrenia patients exhibit altered affect processing in general, and impaired facial affect processing in particular (e.g., Delvecchio, Sugranyes, & Frangou, 2013;Irani, Seligman, Kamath, Kohler, & Gur, 2012; Johnstone et al., 2010; Kohler, Walker, Martin, Healey, & Moberg, 2010; Kurtz & Richardson, 2011; Sugranyes, Kyriakopoulos, Corrigall, Taylor, & Frangou, 2011; Taylor et al., 2012). Impaired facial affect recognition markedly affects social function in schizophrenia (e.g., Hofer et al., 2009;Irani et al., 2012;Pinkham,Gur,&Gur,2007; see also Kurtz & Richardon, 2011). The specificity of this deficit is less clear. It may depend on facial affect recognition and discrimination (Alfimova et al., 2009; Mandal, Pandey, & Prasad, 1998; Mueser, Penn, Blanchard, & Bellack, 1997; Pomarol-Clotet et al., 2010;Seyferthetal.,2009; Silver, Bilker, & Goodman; Turetsky et al., 2007;Wölweretal.,2012); it may be valencespecific, arising for specific facial emotions such as fear (e.g., Hall et al., 2008, and Leppänen et al., 2006, vs. Fiszdon & Bell, 2009) or threat (e.g., Satterthwaite et al., 2010); or it may be a consequence of broader and more basic facial- or visual-processing deficits (Chan, Li, Cheung, & Gong, 2010; Kohler et al., 2010; Norton, McBain, Holt, Ongur, & Chen, 2009; Pomarol-Clotet et al., 2010; Silver et al., 2009; Wynn, Lee, Horan, & Green, 2008).

Identifying the deficit has prompted a number of hemodynamic and electrophysiological neuroimaging studies addressing the neural mechanisms associated with the behavioral deficits (see meta-analyses by, e.g., Delvecchio et al., 2013;Li,Chan, McAlonan, & Gong, 2010; Sugranyes et al., 2011;Tayloretal., 2012; Taylor & MacDonald, 2012). These studies have provided evidence of cortical (e.g., frontal, frontotemporal, and anterior cingulate) and subcortical (particularly amygdala) involvement in affect processing, facial affect recognition, and their dysfunction in schizophrenia. Understanding the dynamics of dysfunctional affect processing will also involve neural communication, including oscillatory brain activity and connectivity measures.

Distinct from face recognition per se, processing emotional expression in faces (as is common in social contexts) has been proposed to involve the recruitment of aspects of the neural and peripheral physiological events that occur when one experiences the emotion oneself (Lang, 1979; Niedenthal, 2007). …

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