Configural and Featural Face Processing Influences on Emotion Recognition in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2017 Mar;23(3):287-291. doi: 10.1017/S1355617716001211. Epub 2017 Feb 3.


Objectives: Emotion recognition impairments have been demonstrated in schizophrenia (Sz), but are less consistent and lesser in magnitude in bipolar disorder (BD). This may be related to the extent to which different face processing strategies are engaged during emotion recognition in each of these disorders. We recently showed that Sz patients had impairments in the use of both featural and configural face processing strategies, whereas BD patients were impaired only in the use of the latter. Here we examine the influence that these impairments have on facial emotion recognition in these cohorts.

Methods: Twenty-eight individuals with Sz, 28 individuals with BD, and 28 healthy controls completed a facial emotion labeling task with two conditions designed to separate the use of featural and configural face processing strategies; part-based and whole-face emotion recognition.

Results: Sz patients performed worse than controls on both conditions, and worse than BD patients on the whole-face condition. BD patients performed worse than controls on the whole-face condition only.

Conclusions: Configural processing deficits appear to influence the recognition of facial emotions in BD, whereas both configural and featural processing abnormalities impair emotion recognition in Sz. This may explain discrepancies in the profiles of emotion recognition between the disorders. (JINS, 2017, 23, 287-291).

Keywords: Emotion processing; Face processing; Holistic face processing; Neuropsychology; Psychosis; Social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / complications*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Recognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology