Author(s): Ebisch SJ, Salone A, Ferri F, De Berardis D, Romani GL,
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Abstract Social dysfunction has been recognized as an elementary feature of schizophrenia, but it remains a crucial issue whether social deficits in schizophrenia concern the inter-subjective domain or primarily have their roots in disturbances of self-experience. Social perception comprises vicarious processes grounding an experiential inter-relationship with others as well as self-regulation processes allowing to maintain a coherent sense of self. The present study investigated whether the functional neural basis underlying these processes is altered in first-episode schizophrenia (FES). Twenty-four FES patients and 22 healthy control participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a social perception task requiring them to watch videos depicting other individuals' inanimate and animate/social tactile stimulations, and a tactile localizer condition. Activation in ventral premotor cortex for observed bodily tactile stimulations was reduced in the FES group and negatively correlated with self-experience disturbances. Moreover, FES patients showed aberrant differential activation in posterior insula for first-person tactile experiences and observed affective tactile stimulations. These findings suggest that social perception in FES at a pre-reflective level is characterized by disturbances of self-experience, including impaired multisensory representations and self-other distinction. However, the results also show that social perception in FES involves more complex alterations of neural activation at multiple processing levels.
This article was published in Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology & Mental Health