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Deficient cortical face-sensitive N170 responses and basic visual processing in schizophrenia

Deficient cortical face-sensitive N170 responses and basic visual processing in schizophrenia

Authors: 
Maher, S. ; Mashhoon, Y. ; Ekstrom, T. ; Lukas, S. ; Chen, Y.
Year: 
2016
Journal: 
Schizophrenia Research
Abstract: 

Background:

Face detection, an ability to identify a visual stimulus as a face, is impaired in patients with schizophrenia. It is unclear whether impaired face processing in this psychiatric disorder results from face-specific domains or stems from more basic visual domains. In this study, we examined cortical face-sensitive N170 response in schizophrenia, taking into account deficient basic visual contrast processing.

Methods:

We equalized visual contrast signals among patients (nā€…=ā€…20) and controls (nā€…=ā€…20) and between face and tree images, based on their individual perceptual capacities (determined using psychophysical methods). We measured N170, a putative temporal marker of face processing, during face detection and tree detection.

Results:

In controls, N170 amplitudes were significantly greater for faces than trees across all three visual contrast levels tested (perceptual threshold, two times perceptual threshold and 100%). In patients, however, N170 amplitudes did not differ between faces and trees, indicating diminished face selectivity (indexed by the differential responses to face vs. tree).

Conclusion:

These results indicate a lack of face-selectivity in temporal responses of brain machinery putatively responsible for face processing in schizophrenia. This neuroimaging finding suggests that face-specific processing is compromised in this psychiatric disorder.

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