The relationship between neuropsychological dysfunction and emotion perception has been frequently noted in various studies. Attention, for example, has been found to play an important role in emotion processing and recognition. Not many studies though, have examined this relationship in first psychotic episode patients. The aim of the present study was to explore the nature of the relation between performance in cognitive tests and a test that measures emotion perception. In a sample of 46 first psychotic episode patients (22 male), we administered a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological non-verbal tests and an emotion recognition test. The cognitive domains of attention, memory, working memory, visuospatial ability and executive function were examined, by using specific tests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). The emotion recognition assessment comprised a new test that includes 35 coloured pictures of individuals expressing six basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear) and a neutral emotion. We used partial correlation–controlling for the effect of age–and we found a statistically significant relationship between emotion recognition and overall cognitive performance. More specifically, attention, visual memory and visuospatial ability positively correlated with emotion recognition. In regard to specific cognitive domains, attention positively correlated with anger and fear, whereas visual memory correlated with happiness and fear. In conclusion, it seems that the role of underlying visual processes in emotion perception has to be further examined and evaluated in this group of patients.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.