Frozen faces of schizophrenic patients harm social interactions

January 23rd, 2009 - 6:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 23 (ANI): Patients suffering from schizophrenia often keep frozen faces when surrounded by people, which scientists claim is linked to poor social skills and an unawareness of the thoughts and intentions of others.

Led by Martin Brune from the University of Bochum, Germany, researchers said that impaired non-verbal communication, in the form of facial expressions, in people with schizophrenia can harm their social interactions

For the study, the researchers conducted interviews and psychological tests to gauge whether reduced nonverbal expressivity could be linked to patients” social-cognitive impairments and poor social competence.

“We were able to show that patients with schizophrenia were reduced in their non-verbal expressivity during an interview that explored psychopathological symptoms and subjective factors of distress. Moreover, we found that patients with the lowest level of nonverbal expressivity performed more poorly on a test that tapped into the comprehension of others” minds than patients whose nonverbal expressivity during interviews was within the range of healthy controls, said Brune.

The ability to “mentalise”, to accurately imagine the thoughts, feelings or intentions that another person is experiencing, is known to be impaired in schizophrenic patients.

In earlier studies, the researchers have shown that this impairment is associated with poor social skills.

Brune said: “By showing that a link exists between non-verbal expressivity and the inability to mentalise, we hope to better specify the factors that actually guide and motivate patients” interpersonal nonverbal behaviour”.

He has hypothesised that poor mentalising abilities contribute to patients” reduced use of the nonverbal behaviours that invite and sustain social interaction in conversation.

Also, he said that reduced signals of this type then partly contribute in difficult and unappealing nature of conversation with schizophrenic patients.

The study is published in BioMed Central’’s open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions. (ANI)

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