More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

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Gender amplifies schizophrenia auditory emotional processing deficit
By Liam Davenport
20 September 2007
Acta Psychiatr Scand 2007; 116: 263-270

Patients with schizophrenia, particularly male patients, have a disease-specific deficit in auditory emotion processing that is not seen in patients with bipolar disorder, Norwegian researchers have discovered.

Previous studies indicate that schizophrenia patients have impaired emotional perception, but the results for bipolar disorder patients have been contradictory. Furthermore, it is known that healthy females perform better on emotional perception tasks than males, explain Anja Vaskinn, from the University of Oslo, and colleagues.

The team presented visual and auditory emotional stimuli, consisting of facial pictures and sentences, respectively, for identification and discrimination to 31 patients (20 male) with schizophrenia, 21 patients (11 male) with bipolar I disorder, and 31 healthy controls (20 male). The average age of the three groups was, respectively, 31.3 years, 38.1 years, and 30.7 years.

There was no evidence of impaired visual emotional perception in either of the two patient groups in comparison with controls, the team writes in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. However, schizophrenia patients performed worse on the auditory emotional perception task than participants from the other groups.

Although there were no significant gender differences among patients with bipolar disorder, both male schizophrenia patients and male controls performed significantly worse than their female counterparts on the auditory emotional perception tasks, while schizophrenic males performed significantly worse than healthy male controls.

"Our data show intact emotion perception for bipolar disorder and an auditory emotion perception deficit for schizophrenia," the team writes. "We have shown that gender plays a role in emotion perception in schizophrenia, and it is our view that gender differences should be incorporated when examining emotion processing in psychiatric samples."

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