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The recognition of negative facial affect is impaired in people with schizophrenia. The neural underpinnings of this deficit and its relationship to the symptoms of psychosis are still unclear.
To examine the association between positive and negative psychotic symptoms and activation within the amygdala and extrastriate visual regions of patients with schizophrenia during fearful and neutral facial expression processing.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure neural responses to neutral and fearful facial expressions in 11 patients with schizophrenia and 9 healthy volunteers during an implicit emotional task.
No association between amygdala activation and positive symptoms was found; the activation within the left superior temporal gyrus was negatively associated with the negative symptoms of the patients.
Our results indicate an association between impaired extrastriate visual processing of facial fear and negative symptoms, which may underlie the previously reported difficulties of patients with negative symptoms in the recognition of facial fear.
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