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Clinical Science Brown Bag Series

Tuesday, February 19, 2019,

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  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 316

Lenie Torregrossa, MS

Department of Psychology (Park Lab)

Vanderbilt University

Decoupling of Spontaneous Facial Mimicry from Emotion Recognition in Schizophrenia

Past research indicates that spontaneous interpersonal mimicry facilitates the decoding of others’ emotions. Individuals with schizophrenia show consistent deficits in emotion recognition and expression. Given the prominence of flat or blunted affect in schizophrenia, it is possible that spontaneous facial mimicry may also be impaired. However, studies assessing automatic facial mimicry in schizophrenia have yielded mixed results. It is therefore unknown whether emotion recognition deficits and impaired automatic facial mimicry are related in this population. Individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) and demographically matched controls (CO) participated in a dynamic emotion recognition task. Electromyographic activity in muscles responsible for producing facial expressions (corrugator supercilli and zygomaticus major) was recorded during the task to assess spontaneous facial mimicry. SZ showed deficits in emotion identification compared to CO, but there was no group difference in the predictive power of spontaneous facial mimicry for avatar’s expressed emotion. In CO, spontaneous facial mimicry supported accurate emotion recognition, but it was decoupled in SZ. These findings suggest a higher-order process underlying emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenia.