Facial and vocal affect perception in people at ultra-high risk of psychosis, first-episode schizophrenia and healthy controls


Dr G. Paul Amminger, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. Email: paul.amminger@meduniwien.ac.at


Aim: The study aims to investigate affect recognition in young people at different stages of psychotic illness.

Methods: Seventy-nine ultra-high risk patients, 30 first-episode schizophrenia patients and 30 healthy control subjects completed a facial affect labelling test and an affective prosody recognition test. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).

Results: We observed significant impairments in facial and vocal emotion recognition in both of the clinical groups compared with the control group. These group differences remained significant when age, sex and education were taken into account.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that emotion recognition impairments may be independent of the stage of illness in schizophrenia. Deficits in emotion recognition may be present before the full expression of psychotic illness, and may contribute to the social cognition and social functioning deficits apparent in emerging psychotic disorders.