Face Perception in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: Interface Between Cognitive and Social Cognitive Functioning

  • Yue ChenEmail author


Perceiving facial features, both affective and non-affective, plays a vital role in everyday life. While it is known that the processing of facial emotion expressions is compromised in schizophrenia, the mechanisms underlying face perception and their connection with cognitive and social cognitive functioning are somewhat elusive. Two important and unresolved issues have been whether visual and cognitive processing of face information is implicated in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and how non-affective information processing relates to deficient affective processing. Recent investigations have demonstrated that not only affective but also non-affective visual and cognitive facial features are processed abnormally in these mental disorders. The cascade of face perception processes implicated includes detection, identity discrimination, emotion discrimination and working memory. Furthermore, the abnormal processing of face information in patients is associated with the processing of basic visual signals as well as the information portrayed in social functioning. These new research advances highlight the broad network of brain systems involved in abnormal face perception in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, spanning cognitive and social cognitive domains.


Schizophrenia Schizoaffective Visual processing Cognition Emotion perception Theory of mind 



Blood-oxygen-level dependence


Fusiform gyrus


functional magnetic resonance imaging





The author would like to thank Mss. Cataldo and Glasenberg, and Messrs. McBain and Norton for the helpful comments on the earlier version of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Visual Psychophysiology Laboratory, Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical School, McLean HospitalBelmontUSA

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