The neuroanatomical basis of affective mentalizing in schizophrenia: Comparison of patients with schizophrenia and patients with localized prefrontal lesions

Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory*, Judith Aharon-Peretz, Yechiel Levkovitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients with schizophrenia show impaired emotional and social behavior, such as misinterpretation of social situations and lack of Theory of Mind (ToM). However, the neuroanatomical basis of impaired ToM and its nature in schizophrenia is still largely unknown. Based on previous findings, the present study suggests that impaired social cognition observed in schizophrenic patients may be similar to that observed in patients with prefrontal (PFC) damage due to impaired 'affective ToM' abilities, rather than to a general impairment in ToM. We examined the behavioral and neural mechanisms that underlie the social and communicative impairments observed in patients with schizophrenia and with PFC damage, by looking at differential patterns of ToM impairment in these individuals. The performance of 24 patients with schizophrenia was compared to the responses of patients with localized lesions in the ventromedial (VM) or dorsolateral PFC, patients with non-frontal lesions, and healthy control subjects. Patients with schizophrenia and those with VM lesions were impaired on 'affective ToM' tasks but not in cognitive ToM conditions. It was concluded that the pattern of mentalizing impairments in schizophrenia resembled those seen in patients with lesions of the frontal lobe, particularly with VM damage, providing support for the notion of a disturbance of the fronto-limbic circuits in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Volume90
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind

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