Facial expression perception correlates with verbal working memory function in schizophrenia

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Aims:Facial emotion perception is considered to provide a measure of social cognition. Numerous studies have examined the perception of emotion in patients with schizophrenia, and the majority has reported impaired ability to recognize facial emotion perception. We aimed to investigate the correlation between facial expression recognition and other domains of social cognition and neurocognition in Japanese patients with schizophrenia.Methods:Participants were 52 patients with schizophrenia and 53 normal controls with no history of psychiatric diseases. All participants completed the Hinting Task and the Social Cognition Screening Questionnaire. The Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia was administered only to the patients. Facial emotion perception measured by the Facial Emotion Selection Test (FEST) was compared between the patients and normal controls.Results:Patients performed significantly worse on the FEST compared to normal control subjects. The FEST total score was significantly positively correlated with scores of the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia attention subscale, Hinting Task, Social Cognition Screening Questionnaire Verbal Working Memory and Metacognition subscales. Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that verbal working memory function was positively related to the facial emotion perception ability in patients with schizophrenia.Conclusions:These results point to the concept that facial emotion perception and some types of working memory use common cognitive resources. Our findings may provide implications for cognitive rehabilitation and related interventions in schizophrenia.

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