To explore whether or not patients with schizophrenia display a more profound impairment of negative emotion processing, we assessed the implicit evaluation of positive and negative emotional stimuli. Twenty patients with schizophrenia (9 paranoid, 11 non-paranoid) and 22 normal controls were instructed to classify emotional pictures according to the intrinsic valence if the pictures were black and white. If the stimuli were color-filtered, participants were instructed to press the positive/ negative response key according to the extrinsic valence (assigned valence of color). The error rates of the color-filtered stimuli were used as dependent measures. Normal controls made more errors on trials of the positive pictures when the correct response was the negative response key than when the correct response was the positive response key. The reverse was true on trials of the negative pictures. Patients with schizophrenia, especially paranoid schizophrenia, committed more errors in trials of the positive pictures when the correct response key was the negative response key. However, the reverse was not true on trials of the negative pictures. These findings suggest that patients with paranoid schizophrenia might suffer from an impaired ability to evaluate negative emotions and have a loosening of association within their negative emotional networks.
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