Patients with schizophrenia often show abnormal social interactions, which may explain their social exclusion behaviors. This study aimed to elucidate patients' brain responses to social rejection in an interactive situation. Fifteen patients with schizophrenia and 16 healthy controls participated in the functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment with the virtual handshake task, in which socially interacting contents such as acceptance and refusal of handshaking were implemented. Responses to the refusal versus acceptance conditions were evaluated and compared between the two groups. Controls revealed higher activity in the refusal condition compared to the acceptance condition in the right superior temporal sulcus, whereas patients showed higher activity in the prefrontal regions, including the frontopolar cortex. In patients, contrast activities of the right superior temporal sulcus were inversely correlated with the severity of schizophrenic symptoms, whereas contrast activities of the left frontopolar cortex were positively correlated with the current anxiety scores. The superior temporal sulcus hypoactivity and frontopolar hyperactivity of patients with schizophrenia in social rejection situations may suggest the presence of mentalizing deficits in negative social situations and inefficient processes of socially aberrant stimuli, respectively. These abnormalities may be one of the neural bases of distorted or paranoid beliefs in schizophrenia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience