August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Discriminating emotions from point-light walkers in persons with Schizophrenia
Author Affiliations
  • Justine M. Y. Spencer
    McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study, McMaster University
  • Allison B. Sekuler
    McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study, McMaster University\nDepartment of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour, McMaster University
  • Patrick J. Bennett
    McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study, McMaster University\nDepartment of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour, McMaster University
  • Martin A. Giese
    Department of Cognitive Neurology, University of Tübingen
  • Bruce K. Christensen
    McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study, McMaster University\nDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 647. doi:10.1167/12.9.647
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      Justine M. Y. Spencer, Allison B. Sekuler, Patrick J. Bennett, Martin A. Giese, Bruce K. Christensen; Discriminating emotions from point-light walkers in persons with Schizophrenia. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):647. doi: 10.1167/12.9.647.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

The visual system is well adapted to recognize human motion from point lights attached to the major joints of an actor. Moreover, individuals are able to recognize emotions based on the visual information in such dynamic point-light displays. This ability is important because humans utilize both biological motion and affect recognition for understanding the intentions of people in the environment. It is not clear, however, whether atypical observers, including people with schizophrenia, also process visual information about emotion in point-light walkers in the same way. There is evidence that people with schizophrenia are impaired in recognizing emotional expressions. Furthermore, people with schizophrenia are known to have deficits in social perception. For these reasons, we investigated whether the ability to recognize emotions from point-light displays is altered in people with schizophrenia. In the current study, groups of healthy community-based controls (N=33) and people with schizophrenia (N=33) were asked to discriminate the emotions of four types of affective point-light walkers: upright, inverted, scrambled (which contained only local form information), and random-position (which contained only global form information). The point-light walkers were presented in three emotional conditions: happy, sad, and angry. Both healthy controls and people with schizophrenia were able to discriminate emotions from point-light walkers, where performance was best for upright walkers, worst with scrambled walkers, and intermediate with random-position and inverted walkers. Overall, performance was worse for people with schizophrenia compared to healthy observers. These results suggest that both healthy controls and people with schizophrenia are able to recognize emotions from point-light walkers on the basis of local motion or global form information alone. However, performance is best when both form and motion information are presented simultaneously, and, although they do perform above chance, people with schizophrenia are relatively impaired in all conditions.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012

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