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Why people with schizophrenia may have trouble reading social cues
Date:5/24/2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn.Understanding the actions of other people can be difficult for those with schizophrenia. Vanderbilt University researchers have discovered that impairments in a brain area involved in perception of social stimuli may be partly responsible for this difficulty.

"Misunderstanding social situations and interactions are core deficits in schizophrenia," said Sohee Park, Gertrude Conaway Professor of Psychology and one of the co-authors on this study. "Our findings may help explain the origins of some of the delusions involving perception and thoughts experienced by those with schizophrenia."

In findings published in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers found that a particular brain area, the posterior superior temporal sulcus or STS, appears to be implicated in this deficit.

"Using brain imaging together with perceptual testing, we found that a brain area in a neural network involved in perception of social stimuli responds abnormally in individuals with schizophrenia," said Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology and co-author. "This brain area fails to distinguish genuine biological motion from highly distorted versions of that motion."

The study's lead author, Jejoong Kim, completed the experiments as part of his dissertation under the supervision of Park and Blake in Vanderbilt's Department ofPsychology. Kim is now conducting research in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Seoul National University in Korea, where Blake is currently a visiting professor.

"We have found that people with schizophrenia tend to 'see' living things in randomness and this subjective experience is correlated with an increased activity in the (posterior) STS," the authors wrote. "In the case of biological motion perception, these self-generated, false impressions of meaning can have negative social consequences, in thatschizophrenia patients may misconstrue the actions or intentions of other peo
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Contact: Melanie Moran
melanie.moran@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-2706
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert

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