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Title page for ETD etd-07182011-162008

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Peterman, Joel Stephen
Author's Email Address joel.peterman@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07182011-162008
Title Impaired Recognition of Gait Presented Affect in Patients with Schizophrenia
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sohee Park Committee Chair
Andrew Tomarken Committee Member
  • emotion recognition
  • biological motion
  • social cognition
  • schizophrenia
Date of Defense 2011-05-12
Availability unrestricted
Individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) consistently show impairment of facial emotion recognition, but underlying mechanisms that give rise to this difficulty have not been elucidated. Given the findings of abnormalities in the fusiform face area and aberrant visual information processing in SZ, it is possible that these individuals may have a perceptual difficulty in extracting appropriate affective cues. The human face and body are rich sources of social and emotional cues, but facial stimuli have been used to examine emotion processing in SZ. Past studies have found that healthy individuals can accurately detect social information from sparse, point-light displays that depict humans in motion (i.e. biological motion). Yet little data exist on the role of biological motion perception in affect recognition in SZ. We hypothesized that SZ patients would show deficits in extracting affective cues from biological motion and that this difficulty might be associated with social deficits. Outpatients with SZ and demographically matched healthy controls (CO) viewed of a “digital” walker in motion. In the Affect condition they were asked to decide whether the walker is angry or happy. In the Gender condition, they were asked to judge whether the walker is a male or a female. Overall accuracy and bias were measured. SZ patients were less accurate than CO on the Affect condition but similar on the Gender condition. These results suggest that SZ patients are impaired in extracting affective information from biological stimuli and that this deficit may cascade into misinterpretation of social signals in the real world.
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