Neural alterations of emotion processing in atypical trajectories of psychotic-like experiences

Roxane Assaf, Julien Ouellet, Josiane Bourque, Emmanuel Stip, Marco Leyton, Patricia Conrod, Stéphane Potvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the neural bases of facial emotion processing before the onset of clinical psychotic symptoms in youth belonging to well-defined developmental trajectories of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). A unique sample of 86 youths was recruited from a population-based sample of over 3800 adolescents who had been followed from 13 to 17 years of age. Three groups were identified based on validated developmental trajectories: a control trajectory with low and decreasing PLEs, and two atypical trajectories with moderate to elevated baseline PLEs that subsequently decreased or increased. All had functional magnetic resonance imaging data collected during a facial emotion processing task. Functional activation and connectivity data were analyzed for different contrasts. The increasing PLE trajectory displayed more positive psychotic symptoms while the decreasing trajectory exhibited more negative symptoms relative to the control group. During face processing, both atypical trajectories displayed decreased activations of the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), while the increasing trajectory displayed a negative signal in the precentral gyrus. The increasing PLE trajectory also displayed impaired connectivity between the amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum, and between the IFG, precuneus, and temporal regions, while the decreasing trajectory exhibited reduced connectivity between the amygdala and visual regions during emotion processing. Both atypical PLE trajectories displayed alterations in brain regions involved in attention salience. While the increasing trajectory with more positive symptoms exhibited dysconnectivity in areas that influence emotion salience and face perception, the decreasing trajectory with more negative symptoms had impairments in visual information integration areas. These group-specific features might account for the differential symptom expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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