Finding the hidden faces: Schizophrenic patients fare worse than healthy subjects

Ari Z. Zivotofsky*, Liron Oron, Liron Hibsher-Jacobson, Yelena Weintraub, Rael D. Strous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Humans have a special ability to recognize human faces that transcends and is separate from the usual discrimination abilities of the visual system. Schizophrenia patients are known to have an impaired ability to recognize facial affect, a deficit that may stem from a more profound problem of face identification and perception. The special skill of detecting human faces relies upon numerous capabilities, including gestalt perception, "filling-in", and proper gaze scanning, facilities that recent research has shown to be deficient in schizophrenia patients. We therefore hypothesized that schizophrenia patients have a deficit in their perception and structural analysis of human faces that will manifest in their difficulty in detecting faces hidden within neutral pictures. We tested the ability of 35 schizophrenia patients and 32 healthy controls at detecting hidden human faces and animals or animal faces hidden within eight pictures. Overall, the patients recognized fewer items compared to controls, however, it was specifically the human faces in which this difference was significant, suggesting that schizophrenic patients have a specific deficit in their human face recognition system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2140-2144
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Face recognition
  • Fusiform gyrus
  • Gestalt
  • Schizophrenia
  • Visual perception


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