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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Overactivation of fear systems to neutral faces in schizophrenia
Author(s): Hall, Jeremy
Whalley, Heather C
McKirdy, James W
Romaniuk, Liana
McGonigle, David
McIntosh, Andrew M
Baig, Ben J
Gountouna, Viktoria-Eleni
Job, Dominic E
Donaldson, David
Sprengelmeyer, Reiner
Young, Andrew W
Johnstone, Eve C
Lawrie, Stephen M
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Keywords: Amygdala
Facial expression Physiological aspects.
Amygdaloid body
Schizophrenia Case studies
Issue Date: 1-Jul-2008
Date Deposited: 27-Jul-2010
Citation: Hall J, Whalley HC, McKirdy JW, Romaniuk L, McGonigle D, McIntosh AM, Baig BJ, Gountouna V, Job DE, Donaldson D, Sprengelmeyer R, Young AW, Johnstone EC & Lawrie SM (2008) Overactivation of fear systems to neutral faces in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 64 (1), pp. 70-73.;
Abstract: Background The amygdala plays a central role in detecting and responding to fear-related stimuli. A number of recent studies have reported decreased amygdala activation in schizophrenia to emotional stimuli (such as fearful faces) compared with matched neutral stimuli (such as neutral faces). We investigated whether the apparent decrease in amygdala activation in schizophrenia could actually derive from increased amygdala activation to the neutral comparator stimuli. Methods Nineteen patients with schizophrenia and 24 matched control participants viewed pictures of faces with either fearful or neutral facial expressions, and a baseline condition, during functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Results Patients with schizophrenia showed a relative decrease in amygdala activation to fearful faces compared with neutral faces. However, this difference resulted from an increase in amygdala activation to the neutral faces in patients with schizophrenia, not from a decreased response to the fearful faces. Conclusions Patients with schizophrenia show an increased response of the amygdala to neutral faces. This is sufficient to explain their apparent deficit in amygdala activation to fearful faces compared with neutral faces. The inappropriate activation of neural systems involved in fear to otherwise neutral stimuli may contribute to the development of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.12.014
Rights: Published in Biological Psychiatry by Elsevier / Society of Biological Psychiatry.

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