Perception of emotion and neurocognitive functioning in schizophrenia: What's the link?

Kimmy S. Kee, Robert S. Kern, Michael F. Green

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130 Scopus citations


In schizophrenia, relatively little is known about the association between deficits in emotion perception and basic neurocognitive functioning. The present study examined perception of emotion and a discrete set of neurocognitive functions in 28 treatment-resistant schizophrenic patients. Measures of emotion perception included a facial emotion identification test (still photographs presented on videotape), a voice emotion identification test (audiotape), and an affect perception test (brief interpersonal vignettes presented on videotape). Measures of neurocognitive functioning were selected based on hypothesized relationships to perception of emotion. These measures included: (a) Span of Apprehension task, a measure of early visual processing, visual scanning, and iconic read-out; (b) Degraded- Stimulus Continuous Performance Test, a measure of visual vigilance; and (c) Digit Span Distractibility Test, a measure of immediate or working memory. Among these measures, performance on the Span of Apprehension strongly correlated with performance on all three emotion perception tasks. The associations between perception of emotion and the other two measures were in the same direction, but were significantly smaller than those of the Span of Apprehension. These findings implicate the importance of early perceptual processing (i.e. visual scanning) in the ability of schizophrenic individuals to perceive emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the UCLA Clinical Research Center for the Study of Schizophrenia (R.P. Liberman, P.I.), an investigator-initiated grant from the Janssen Research Foundation, and an NIMH NRSA Grant MH-14584 (K.H. Nuechterlein, P.I.). Portions of this study were presented at the 11th annual meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology in September 1996 in Atlanta, GA. The authors wish to thank Jeffery L. Hayden, Mary Jane Robertson, M.S., Leanne Womack, Psy.D., and Barringer D. Marshall, Jr., M.D. for their help in the preparation of this project and Maryam Etemadjam, Renee Galbavy, and Katherine Narr for their assistance in data collection. The authors also would like to thank Sandra Kerr, Ph.D., John Neale, Ph.D., Alan Bellack, Ph.D., Jack Blanchard, Ph.D., and Kim Mueser, Ph.D., for permission to use their measures. Data analyses were conducted by Sun Sook Hwang, M.S., M.P.H. and Jim Mintz, Ph.D., of the Methodological and Statistical Support Unit of the UCLA Clinical Research Center for the Study of Schizophrenia. Finally, the authors acknowledge the staff and administration of Camarillo State Hospital for their cooperation in this study.


  • Affect recognition
  • Social cognition
  • Vigilance
  • Visual scanning
  • Working memory


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