Differential patterns of initial and sustained responses in amygdala and cortical regions to emotional stimuli in schizophrenia patients and healthy participants

Differential patterns of initial and sustained responses in amygdala and cortical regions to emotional stimuli in schizophrenia patients and healthy participants

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J Psychiatry Neurosci 2010;35(1):41-48

Pilar Salgado-Pineda, PhD; Eric Fakra, MD; Pauline Delaveau, PhD; Ahmad R. Hariri, PhD; Olivier Blin, MD, PhD

Salgado-Pineda, Fakra, Delaveau, Blin — Centre d’Investigation Clinique–Unité de Pharmacologie Clinique et d’Evaluations Therapeutiques, Hôpital de la Timone, Unité Mixte de Recherche, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 6193 Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France; Salgado-Pineda — Benito Menni, Centro Atención Salud Mental, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Spain; Fakra — Service Hospitalo–Universitaire de Psychiatrie, Hôpital Ste. Marguerite, Marseille, France; Hariri — Department of Psychiatry and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Abstract

Background: We sought to investigate the altered brain responses to emotional stimuli in patients with schizophrenia.
Methods: We analyzed data from 14 patients with schizophrenia and 14 healthy controls who performed an emotional face matching task. We evaluated brain activity and connectivity in the amygdala and cortical regions during the initial (first 21 seconds of each stimulation block) and sustained (last 21 seconds) stages of an emotional processing task, and we determined changes in amygdala activity across the emotional processing task.

Results: The patients with schizophrenia showed similar amygdala activation to the controls during the initial stage of processing, but their activation decreased during the sustained stage. The controls showed increasing amygdala activity across the emotional blocks, whereas activity progressively decreased in the schizophrenia group. The patients with schizophrenia showed increased cortical activity and interconnectivity in the medial frontal and inferior parietal cortex in the initial stage of emotional processing.There was increased activity in the superior temporal cortex and greater connectivity with the inferior parietal cortex in the sustained stage. Performance accuracy was lower in the schizophrenia group in the first part of the block, while their reaction time was longer in the latter part of the block.

Limitations: It was not possible to specify the moment at which the switch in amygdala response occurred.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that patients with schizophrenia have an initial automatic emotional response but that they need to switch to a compensatory cognitive strategy to solve the task.


Acknowledgments: This study was supported by grants from the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental. The authors thank the group of Centre IRMf de Marseille for their technical support in image acquisition, as well as Jennifer Coulla nd Peter Mckenna for their correction of the English text. The authors also thank Raimon Salvador for providing statistical advice.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors designed the study, reviewed the written article and approved its publication. Drs. Salgado-Pineda, Fakra and Delaveau acquired the data, which Dr. Salgado-Pineda analyzed. Drs. Salgado-Pineda and Fakra wrote the article.

Submitted Feb. 13, 2009; Revised Jul. 9, Aug. 31, 2009; Accepted Sep. 3, 2009.

Correspondence to: Dr. P. Salgado-Pineda, Unidad de Investigación–Hospital Benito Menni, Centro Atención Salud Mental, c/o Dr. Antoni Pujadas, 38, 08830 Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; fax 34 93 640 02 68; psalgado@hospitalbenitomenni.org