Neural responses to dynamic expressions of fear in schizophrenia

T. A. Russell, E. Reynaud, K. Kucharska-Pietura, C. Ecker, Philip John Benson, F. Zelaya, V. Giampietro, M. Brammer, A. S. David, M. L. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Abnormalities in social functioning are a significant feature of schizophrenia. One critical aspect of these abnormalities is the difficulty these individuals have with the recognition of facial emotions, particularly negative expressions such as fear. The present work focuses on fear perception and its relationship to the paranoid symptoms of schizophrenia, specifically, how underlying limbic system structures (i.e. the amygdala) react when probed with dynamic fearful facial expressions. Seven paranoid and eight non-paranoid subjects (all males) with a diagnosis of schizophrenia took part in functional magnetic resonance imaging study (1.5 T) examining neural responses to emerging fearful expressions contrasted with dissipating fearful expressions. Subjects viewed emerging and dissipating expressions while completing a gender discrimination task. Their brain activation was compared to that of 10 healthy male subjects. Increased hippocampal activation was seen in the non-paranoid group, while abnormalities in the bilateral amygdalae were observed only in the paranoid individuals. These patterns may represent trait-related hippocampal dysfunction, coupled with state (specifically paranoia) related amygdala abnormalities. The findings are discussed in light of models of paranoia in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jun 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • paranoid schizophrenia
  • functional MRI
  • fear
  • emotion
  • vigilance-avoidance
  • hippocampus
  • amygdala
  • facial emotion recognition
  • visual scan paths
  • generic brain activation
  • human amygdala
  • persecutory delusions
  • affective-disorders
  • prefrontal cortex
  • affective prosody
  • fMRI


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