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Training of Affect Recognition impacts electrophysiological correlates of facial affect recognition in schizophrenia: Analyses of fixation-locked potentials

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journal contribution
posted on 18.08.2015, 00:00 by Sanna Stroth, Daniel Kamp, Katharina Drusch, Nicole Frommann, Wolfgang Wölwer

Objectives. Training of Affect Recognition (TAR) is a useful approach to restoring cognitive function in schizophrenic patients. Along with improving visual exploration of faces and altering central information processing in relevant brain areas, TAR attenuates impairments in facial affect recognition. In the present study, we investigate the effects of TAR on early electrophysiological correlates of facial affect recognition in schizophrenia. Methods. The study population comprised 12 schizophrenic patients and 14 healthy controls. In each individual, we carried out EEG, concomitant measurements of scanning eye movements and fixation-based low resolution electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) analyses of brain electric activity. All analyses were performed at baseline and after participation in TAR. Results. In patients, brain activation patterns significantly changed after completing the TAR. Functional improvements were particularly pronounced in the superior parietal and inferior parietal lobes, where trained patients showed a larger increase in activation than untrained healthy controls. Conclusions. The TAR activates compensatory brain processes involved in the perception, attention and evaluation of emotional stimuli. This may underlie the established behavioral effects of the TAR in schizophrenic patients, which include improvements in facial affect recognition and alterations of visual exploration strategies.