Specific vulnerability of face perception to noise: a similar effect in schizophrenia patients and healthy individuals

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Feb 28;225(3):619-24. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.11.035. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


Face perception plays a foundational role in the social world. This perceptual ability is deficient in schizophrenia. A noise-filtering mechanism is essential for perceptual processing. It remains unclear as to whether a specific noise-filtering mechanism is implicated in the face perception problem or a general noise-filtering mechanism is involved which also mediates non-face visual perception problems associated with this psychiatric disorder. This study examined and compared the effects of external noise on the performance of face discrimination and car discrimination in schizophrenia patients (n=25) and healthy controls (n=27). Superimposing the external visual noise on face or car stimuli elevated perceptual thresholds (i.e. degraded performance levels) for both face and car discrimination. However, the effect of noise was significantly larger on face than on car discrimination, both in patients and controls. This pattern of results suggests specific vulnerability of face processing to noise in healthy individuals and those with schizophrenia.

Keywords: Cognition; Face recognition; Noisy; Schizophrenic; Vision; Visual object.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Perceptual Disorders / psychology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Perception*