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You looking at me?: Interpreting social cues in schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2015

T. P. White
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, UK School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
F. Borgan
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
O. Ralley
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
S. S. Shergill*
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
*
*Address for correspondence: Professor S. S. Shergill, Cognition, Schizophrenia and Imaging Laboratory, Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. (Email: sukhi.shergill@kcl.ac.uk)

Abstract

Background.

Deficits in the perception of social cues are common in schizophrenia and predict functional outcome. While effective communication depends on deciphering both verbal and non-verbal features, work on non-verbal communication in the disorder is scarce.

Method.

This behavioural study of 29 individuals with schizophrenia and 25 demographically matched controls used silent video-clips to examine gestural identification, its contextual modulation and related metacognitive representations.

Results.

In accord with our principal hypothesis, we observed that individuals with schizophrenia exhibited a preserved ability to identify archetypal gestures and did not differentially infer communicative intent from incidental movements. However, patients were more likely than controls to perceive gestures as self-referential when confirmatory evidence was ambiguous. Furthermore, the severity of their current hallucinatory experience inversely predicted their confidence ratings associated with these self-referential judgements.

Conclusions.

These findings suggest a deficit in the contextual refinement of social-cue processing in schizophrenia that is potentially attributable to impaired monitoring of a mirror mechanism underlying intentional judgements, or to an incomplete semantic representation of gestural actions. Non-verbal communication may be improved in patients through psychotherapeutic interventions that include performance and perception of gestures in group interactions.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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