Emotion effects on attention, amygdala activation, and functional connectivity in schizophrenia

Alan Anticevic, Grega Repovs, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Emotional abnormalities are a critical clinical feature of schizophrenia (SCZ), but complete understanding of their underlying neuropathology is lacking. Numerous studies have examined amygdala activation in response to affective stimuli in SCZ, but no consensus has emerged. However, behavioral studies examining 'in-the-moment' processing of affect have suggested intact emotional processing in SCZ. To examine which aspects of emotional processing may be impaired in SCZ, we combined behavior and neuroimaging to investigate effects of aversive stimuli during minimal cognitive engagement, at the level of behavior, amygdala recruitment, and its whole-brain task-based functional connectivity (tb-fcMRI) because impairments may manifest when examining across-region functional integration. Twenty-eight patients and 24 matched controls underwent rapid event-related fMRI at 3 T while performing a simple perceptual decision task with negative or neutral distraction. We examined perceptual decision slowing, amygdala activation, and whole-brain amygdala tb-fcMRI, while ensuring group signal-to-noise profile matching. Following scanning, subjects rated all images for experienced arousal and valence. No significant group differences emerged for negative vs neutral reaction time, emotional ratings across groups, or amygdala activation. However, even in the absence of behavioral or activation differences, SCZ subjects demonstrated significantly weaker amygdala-prefrontal cortical coupling, specifically during negative distraction. Whereas in-the-moment perception, behavioral response, and amygdala recruitment to negative stimuli during minimal cognitive load seem to be intact, there is evidence of aberrant amygdala-prefrontal integration in SCZ subjects. Such abnormalities may prove critical for understanding disturbances in patients' ability to use affective cues when guiding higher level cognitive processes needed in social interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-980
Number of pages14
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • IAPS
  • amygdala
  • attention
  • emotion
  • fMRI
  • functional connectivity
  • schizophrenia


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