Emotion deficits have long been considered to be the basis of negative symptoms for schizophrenia. These kinds of deficits may be manifested in diminished experiential pleasure and emotion expression in everyday life. However, most of the extant literature has focused only either experiential pleasure or emotion expression. To better understand why patients with schizophrenia show deficits in emotion response, we should also consider the regulatory domain of emotion.
Dr. Raymond Chan and his team members from the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, have conducted a study to examine experiential pleasure, emotional regulation and emotion expression in 146 patients with schizophrenia using a cluster analysis approach. They have identified 3 subtypes of patients with schizophrenia associating with different patterns of experiential pleasure, emotional regulation and emotion expression manifestations. Subgroup 1 (n = 41) was characterized by a deficit in experiential pleasure and emotional regulation, subgroup 2 (n = 47) was characterized by a general deficit in experiential pleasure, emotional regulation and emotion expression, and subgroup 3 (n = 57) was characterized by a deficit in emotion expression compared to 73 demographically matched healthy controls. Discriminant function analysis also indicated that these three subgroups were characterized by distinct clinical manifestations.
These findings have important implications for schizophrenia research. The identified unique subgroups of emotional experience, regulation and expression may provide insights into the development of interventions based on the characteristics of each distinct cluster. For example, patients with just emotion expression deficits may benefit more from intervention targeting emotional expression rather than general training in emotion.
The study was supported by the National Science Fund China, the Beijing Training Project for the Leading Talents in Science and Technology, the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission Grant, and the National Basic Research Programme of China.
The study is now published online in Schizophrenia Research