Table of Contents
ISRN Psychiatry
Volume 2013, Article ID 965428, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Individuals Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Assign Emotional Importance to Neutral Stimuli: An fMRI Study

1Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal, 7331, rue Hochelaga, Montreal, QC, Canada H1N 3V2
2Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
3Department of Psychology, Bishop's University, 2600, rue College, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1M 1Z7

Received 2 September 2013; Accepted 13 November 2013

Academic Editors: E. J. Aguilar and M. Saoud

Copyright © 2013 Nadia Lakis and Adrianna Mendrek. 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.


The majority of functional neuroimaging studies investigating neural correlates of emotion processing in schizophrenia report a significant deficit in limbic structures activation in patients relative to control participants. Recently it has been suggested that this apparent “deficit” could be due to an enhanced sensitivity of the neutral material in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, rather than due to their inefficiency in emotion processing. The purpose of the present study was to test this supposition and verify if the potential effect is present in both men and women diagnosed with schizophrenia. In order to do that we examined the pattern of cerebral activation associated with processing of neutral stimuli in schizophrenia. Thirty-seven schizophrenia patients and 37 healthy controls viewed neutral and emotional images while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Schizophrenia patients rated the neutral images as more emotionally salient than controls. Additionally, patients showed significant activation during processing of neutral images in limbic and prefrontal regions; similar areas were underactivated in patients relative to controls during processing of emotional information. Investigation of sex differences revealed that the enhanced responsiveness to the emotionally neutral material was attributed primarily to men with schizophrenia.