Face-related visual search deficits in first-episode schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res. 2017 Oct:256:144-149. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.06.021. Epub 2017 Jun 15.


Schizophrenia is considered a complex illness with multiple cognitive dysfunctions, including a deficit in visual processing. However, whether the deficiency of visual processing in schizophrenia is general across stimuli or stimulus-specific remains the subject of debate. In the current study, eighteen first-episode schizophrenic patients and eighteen healthy controls participated in three visual search tasks in which they were asked to search a specific target of a triangle, face identity or facial affect. The results showed that, compared to healthy controls, the accuracies for face identity and facial affect searches were significantly lower in schizophrenic patients, while the performance of the triangle search was the same. Furthermore, the accuracy of the facial affect search was negatively correlated to negative symptoms in schizophrenia. These results revealed a face-related deficit in schizophrenia and suggest that visual processing deficits in schizophrenia were stimuli-specific.

Keywords: Face perception; Facial affect; First episode schizophrenia; Negative symptoms; Visual search.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Recognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult