Biological Motion Sensitivity, But Not Interpersonal Predictive Coding Is Impaired in Schizophrenia

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Social predictive coding is now a well-established phenomenon in healthy individuals. It has been demonstrated that the communicative gestures of one agent may be effectively used to predict the actions of other agents. Individuals with schizophrenia often present social–cognitive deficits. The aim of this paper is to examine interpersonal predictive coding in patients with schizophrenia. Forty-six participants with schizophrenia and 40 healthy controls (HC) completed a simultaneous masking detection task (Interpersonal Detection Task; IDT), during which they observed point-light displays of two agents (A and B). During the communicative condition, agent A performed a communicative gesture, to which agent B responded accordingly. During the individual condition, agent A performed a noncommunicative action instead of the communicative gesture. Upon completion of the IDT, participants were asked to explicitly classify the actions of two agents based on nonmasked videos of point-light dyads. In line with previous findings, people with schizophrenia presented a reduced masking threshold for biological motion displays, and were less able to correctly recognize the actions of two agents during the explicit recognition task. However, observing the communicative gesture of agent A enhanced the visual discrimination of agent B in participants from all groups. This effect was observed despite the fact that SCZ presented overall diminished sensitivity to biological motion during IDT. Interpersonal predictive coding, which at least partially relies upon implicit processes, may be less impaired in people with schizophrenia than explicit social–cognitive processes (e.g., theory of mind).

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