Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2012, Article ID 858562, 11 pages
Clinical Study

Cardiac Responses during Picture Viewing in Young Male Patients with Schizophrenia

1Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus University Medical Center, ‘s Gravendijkwal 230, 3015 CE Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2School of Psychology, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
3Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Psychology Building, 1835 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Received 26 July 2012; Accepted 16 October 2012

Academic Editor: Heimo ViinamaKi

Copyright © 2012 Roelie J. Hempel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous research investigating the emotion recognition ability in patients with schizophrenia has mainly focused on the recognition of facial expressions. To broaden our understanding of emotional processes in patients with schizophrenia, this study aimed to investigate whether these patients experience and process other emotionally evocative stimuli differently from healthy participants. To investigate this, we measured the cardiac and subjective responses of 33 male patients (9 with and 24 without antipsychotic medication) and 40 male control subjects to emotion-eliciting pictures. Cardiac responses were chosen as an outcome measure because previous research has indicated that these are linked with attentional and emotional processes and provide a more objective measure than self-report measures alone. The differences in cardiac responses between patients and controls were limited to medicated patients: only the medicated patients showed significantly decreased cardiac orienting responses compared with control subjects, regardless of picture contents. These results indicate that medicated patients directed less attention towards emotion-eliciting pictures than controls. Decreased attentional resources while processing emotional evocative stimuli could lead to incorrect appraisals of the environment and may have detrimental emotional and social consequences, contributing to chronic stress levels and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.