Harald Kugel1, Christian Lindner2, Udo Dannlowski2, 3, Kirsten Walhfer2, Maike Roediger2, Birgit Maisch4, Jochen Bauer2, Patricia Ohrmann2, Rebekka Lencer2, Pienie Zwitserlood5, Anette Kersting6, Walter Heindel1, Volker Arolt2, Thomas Suslow6
1Dept. of Clinical Radiology, University of Muenster, Muenster, NRW, Germany; 2Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, Muenster, NRW, Germany; 3Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Marburg, Marburg, HE, Germany; 4Klinik am Schlossgarten Duelmen, Duelmen, NRW, Germany; 5Dept. of Psychology, University of Muenster, Muenster, NRW, Germany; 6Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, SN, Germany
This fMRI study investigates the role of the amygdala in emotional processing in schizophrenia patients. Previous studies have demonstrated amygdala hypoactivation in patients, but also amygdala hyperactivation with paradigms eliciting automatic affect processing. Furthermore, hyperactivation was related to symptoms of affective flattening, i.e. lack of emotional reactivity. Here amygdala responsivity to threat-related facial expression was studied as function of automatic versus controlled emotion processing. Our findings suggest that amygdala hyperresponsivity to unmasked fearful faces might be a functional marker of schizophrenia, while amygdala hyperresponsivity to masked fearful faces might be a specific characteristic of patients with affective flattening.