Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are typically separated in diagnostic systems. Behavioral, cognitive, and brain abnormalities associated with each disorder nonetheless overlap. We evaluated the diagnostic specificity of facial emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to determine whether select aspects of emotion recognition differed for the two disorders. The investigation used an experimental task that included the same facial images in an emotion recognition condition and an age recognition condition (to control for processes associated with general face recognition) in 27 schizophrenia patients, 16 bipolar I patients, and 30 controls. Schizophrenia and bipolar patients exhibited both shared and distinct aspects of facial emotion recognition deficits. Schizophrenia patients had deficits in recognizing angry facial expressions compared to healthy controls and bipolar patients. Compared to control participants, both schizophrenia and bipolar patients were more likely to mislabel facial expressions of anger as fear. Given that schizophrenia patients exhibited a deficit in emotion recognition for angry faces, which did not appear due to generalized perceptual and cognitive dysfunction, improving recognition of threat-related expression may be an important intervention target to improve social functioning in schizophrenia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a Thesis Research Grant from the University of Minnesota, PGS Doctoral Award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, University of Calgary Start-up Grant, Canadian Institutes of Health Research operating grant and New Investigator Award to V.M.G.; from a Clinical Science Merit Review Program Grant of the Department of Veterans Affairs and from the National Institutes of Health ( R24 MH069675 ) to S.R.S.