Negative socio-emotional resonance in schizophrenia: A functional magnetic resonance imaging hypothesis

C. Fahim, E. Stip, A. Mancini-Marïe, M. Boualem, D. Malaspina, M. Beauregard

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the present study is to use neuroscience theories about brain function (mirror-neurons MN) to draw inferences about the mechanisms supporting emotional resonance in two different groups of schizophrenia patients (with flat affect FA+ n=13 and without flat affect FA- n=11). We hypothesize that FA+ will not activate key brain areas involved in emotional processing. Conversely, FA- will have a functional mirror system for emotional resonance confirmed by activation of the prefrontal cortex and behavioral results. To test this hypothesis, we compared the two groups using blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) displaying a passive visual task (44 negative IAPS pictures and 44 neutral pictures). A random-effects analysis, for schizophrenia patients FA-, revealed significant loci of activation in the left mesial prefrontal (MPFC), right orbitofrontal (OFC) and left anterior cingulate cortices (ACC). Correlational analyses carried out between self-report ratings of negative feelings and BOLD signal changes revealed the existence of positive correlation in the LACC, LMPFC and ROFC. Conversely, FA+ did not show significant activation in the prefrontal cortex. We propose that negative emotional resonance induced by passively viewing negative pictures may be a form of "mirroring" that grounds negative feelings via an experiential mechanism. Hence, it could be argued that FA- were able to 'feel' emotions through this resonance behavior. Conversely, we suggest that the dysfunction seen in the FA+ group is a failure or distortion in the development of the MN system. This could be due to genetic or other endogenous causes, which affected prefrontal cortex MN involved in emotional resonance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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