Abnormal recognition of facial expression of emotions in depressed patients with major depression disorder and schizotypal personality disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 1996 Oct 15;40(8):697-705. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(96)00032-7.


The aim of this paper is to study the recognition of facial expression of emotions in depressed patients with major depressive disorder (MD) and schizotypal personality disorder (STP). The pictures of sad, emotionally neutral, and happy faces followed by a masking stimulus were displayed for 80 msec on a computer screen randomly in the left or right hemifield of vision (LHF and RHF). The subjects had to respond by pressing a three position key. Multiple analysis of variance revealed that all depressed patients, relative to control subjects, made more errors in a task of recognition of facial affect. The characteristics of impairment of performance were found to be related to the nosology of depression. MD patients revealed significantly impaired recognition of negative (in LHF and in RHF) and positive (in LHF) facial emotions, as well as poorer recognition in the right hemisphere, and reduced hemispheric asymmetry. In remission, they showed statistically significant recovery of recognition function. STP patients were less impaired and showed slightly poorer recognition of sad (in RHF) and happy (in LHF) expressions. This group demonstrated significantly poor recognition of happy expressions, and more marked dysfunction of the left hemisphere. In remission, STP patients failed to improve in recognition of emotion. This suggests, that the features of emotion recognition in MD and STP groups reflect some differences in the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the affect-related dysfunction in these groups of depressed patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Attention* / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Recurrence
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder / physiopathology
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Social Perception*