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Impact of Schizotypal Traits and Social Anxiety on Amygdala Reactivity to Surprised Faces
Ratings of facial expressions with ambiguous valence, such as surprised faces, provide a stable measure of negativity bias—the trait-like tendency to perceive and react more strongly to information with negative valence. Abnormal amygdala reactivity to surprise may underlie social perception difficulties in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD). The purpose of this study was to characterize the neural correlates of negativity bias in dimensional schizotypy, a putative risk factor for SSD. A total of 20 participants (female, n = 10) with varying degrees of dimensional schizotypy passively-viewed surprised and neutral faces while undergoing blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Prior to MRI scanning, participants completed a forced-choice laboratory task that assessed individual differences in negativity bias to surprised faces. Standard approaches were used to assess BOLD functional activity for each fMRI contrast of interest. Consistent with study hypotheses, each dimension of schizotypy showed unique relationships with whole brain functional activity for the contrast testing for activation differences between surprised and neutral faces (i.e., “Surprise > Neutral” contrast). The SPQ-BRU Social Anxiety factor was positively associated with functional activity and percent signal change in the right amygdala for the Surprise > Neutral contrast. The SPQ-BRU Interpersonal factor was positively associated with functional activity and percent signal change in the left amygdala, although to a less robust degree than the Social Anxiety factor. These findings provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that dimensional schizotypy underlies aberrant neural activity associated with negativity bias in the amygdala. Social discomfort and interpersonal problems in dimensional schizotypy may be uniquely associated with these neural processes. The present findings contribute to the growing literature on transactional models of dimensional schizotypy, which hypothesize that preexisting vulnerabilities manifest as cognitive and affective abnormalities on neural and behavioral levels.
Montague, Elaina, "Impact of Schizotypal Traits and Social Anxiety on Amygdala Reactivity to Surprised Faces" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI13897531.