Visual scanpaths to positive and negative facial emotions in an outpatient schizophrenia sample

Schizophr Res. 2002 May 1;55(1-2):159-70. doi: 10.1016/s0920-9964(01)00186-4.


We used a psychophysiological marker of visual attention (visual scanpath) to investigate facial emotion processing in schizophrenia (n= 65) and healthy control (n = 61) groups. Visual scanpaths to 'happy', *sad' and 'neutral' faces (two exposures each) were recorded using video-oculography. Emotion recognition accuracy was assessed under both 'difficult' (exposure 1) and 'limited choice' (exposure 2) conditions. Compared to controls, schizophrenia subjects showed 'restricted' scanning and reduced attention to salient facial features (eyes, nose, mouth), that was particularly apparent for happy and neutral faces: accuracy was correspondingly reduced for the 'difficult' condition. The schizophrenia deficit in positive emotion perception may reflect a failure to integrate salient features due to dysfunctions in local processing of detailed, relevant information (fewer fixations, less attention to facial features), and in the networks that synchronise local and global processing of biologically-relevant face stimuli (generally restricted scanning style).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Emotions*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*