Although emotional dysfunction is considered a fundamental symptom of schizophrenia, studies investigating the neural basis of emotional dysfunction in schizophrenia are few. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a task viewing affective pictures, we aimed to examine automatic emotional response and to elucidate the neural basis of impaired emotional processing in schizophrenia. Fifteen healthy volunteers and 15 schizophrenics were studied. During the scans, the subjects were instructed to indicate how each of the presented pictures made them feel. Whole brain activities in response to the affective pictures were measured by fMRI. Controls recruited the neural circuit including amygdaloid-hippocampal region, prefrontal cortex, thalamus, basal ganglia, cerebellum, midbrain, and visual cortex while viewing unpleasant pictures. Despite an equal behavioral result to controls, the patients showed less activation in the components of the circuit (right amygdala, bilateral hippocampal region, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, midbrain, and visual cortex). This study demonstrated functional abnormalities in the neural circuit of emotional processing in schizophrenia. In particular, decreased activation in the right amygdala and MPFC appears to be an important finding related to dysfunctional emotional behavior in schizophrenia.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.