Social-Cognitive Deficits in Schizophrenia
Patients with schizophrenia not only suffer from prototypical psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations and from cognitive deficits, but also from tremendous deficits in social functioning. However, little is known about the interplay between the cognitive and the social-cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Our chapter gives an overview on behavioral, as well as functional imaging studies on social cognition in schizophrenia. Main findings on cognitive and motivational deficits in schizophrenia are reviewed and introduced within the context of the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia. The reviewed findings suggest that disturbed “social brain” functioning in schizophrenia, depending on the specific context, can either lead to a neglect of the emotions and intentions of others or to the false attribution of these emotions and intentions in an emotionally neutral social content. We integrate these findings with the current knowledge about aberrant dopaminergic firing in schizophrenia by presenting a comprehensive model explaining core symptoms of the disorder. The main implication of the presented model is that neither cognitive-motivational, nor social-cognitive deficits alone cause schizophrenia symptoms, but that symptoms only emerge by the interplay of disturbed social brain functioning with aberrant dopaminergic firing.
KeywordsSchizophrenia Social cognition Social brain Amygdala Superior temporal sulcus Dopamine hypothesis Aberrant salience Ventral striatum Prefrontal cortex
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