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Decision making in an emotionally conflicting situation is important in social life. We aimed to address the similarity and disparity of neural correlates involved in processing ambivalent stimuli in patients with schizophrenia and patients with depression. Behavioral task-related hemodynamic responses were measured using [15O]H2O positron emission tomography (PET) in 12 patients with schizophrenia and 12 patients with depression. The task was a modified word-stem completion task, which was designed to evoke ambivalence in forced and non-forced choice conditions. The prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum were found to show increased activity in the healthy control group. In the schizophrenia group, activity in these two regions was negligible. In the depression group, the pattern of activity was altered and a functional compensatory recruitment of the inferior parietal regions was suggested. The prefrontal cortex seems to be associated with the cognitive control to resolve the conflict toward the ambivalent stimuli, whereas the cerebellum reflects the sustained working memory to search for compromise alternatives. The deficit of cerebellar activation in the schizophrenia group might underlie the inability to search and consider compromising responses for conflict resolution. (JINS, 2009, 15, 990–1001.)
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