From the Journals

Prosody recognition associated with functioning in first-episode schizophrenia



Affective prosody recognition is associated with role and social functioning in patients with a recent first episode of schizophrenia, according to Kelsey A. Bonfils, PhD, and associates.

The investigators conducted an analysis of 49 patients aged between 18 and 45 years with a recent first episode of schizophrenia who were participating in a larger randomized, controlled trial. Symptoms of schizophrenia were assessed using a 24-item version of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and functioning was assessed using the Global Functioning Scale (GFS) and Role Functioning Scale (RFS). Study participants took the Prosody Task, which assessed the ability to recognize happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust, and the Facial Emotion Identification Test (FEIT), which assesses the ability to recognize happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust, reported Dr. Bonfils of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the department of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. The study was published in Schizophrenia Research: Cognition.

In the Prosody Task, patients were significantly more likely to recognize anger (45.6% correct) and sadness (43.8%), and significantly less likely to recognize disgust (21.9%). In the FEIT, patients were most likely to recognize happiness (97.5%), followed by surprise (90.0%), anger (85.0%), sadness (77.5%), disgust (73.8%), and fear (55.0%).

Performance in the Prosody Task was associated with GFS role functioning and RFS social functioning, while FEIT performance was not significantly associated with any functioning measure. In terms of symptoms, Prosody Task performance was negatively associated with disorganization in the BPRS, and FEIT performance was associated with disorganization, reality distortion, and positive symptoms.

“These findings are consistent with the view that emotion recognition deficits could be contributing to deficits in the ability of people with first-episode schizophrenia to adequately function in the real world, both in relationships with friends and in normative young adult roles,” the investigators wrote. “Interventions designed to target social cognitive skills may improve social functioning via improvement of emotion recognition skills.”

Dr. Bonfils reported no conflicts of interest. Three coauthors reported receiving support, research grants, and funding from several pharmaceutical companies.

SOURCE: Bonfils KA et al. Schizophr Res Cogn. 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.scog.2019.100153.

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