Altered amygdala-prefrontal connectivity during emotion perception in schizophrenia

Olivia A. Bjorkquist, Emily K. Olsen, Brady D. Nelson, Ellen S. Herbener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Individuals with schizophrenia evidence impaired emotional functioning. Abnormal amygdala activity has been identified as an etiological factor underlying affective impairment in this population, but the exact nature remains unclear. The current study utilized psychophysiological interaction analyses to examine functional connectivity between the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during an emotion perception task. Participants with schizophrenia (SZ) and healthy controls (HC) viewed and rated positive, negative, and neutral images while undergoing functional neuroimaging. Results revealed a significant group difference in right amygdala-mPFC connectivity during perception of negative versus neutral images. Specifically, HC participants demonstrated positive functional coupling between the amygdala and mPFC, consistent with co-active processing of salient information. In contrast, SZ participants evidenced negative functional coupling, consistent with top-down inhibition of the amygdala by the mPFC. A significant positive correlation between connectivity strength during negative image perception and clinician-rated social functioning was also observed in SZ participants, such that weaker right amygdala-mPFC coupling during negative compared to neutral image perception was associated with poorer social functioning. Overall, results suggest that emotional dysfunction and associated deficits in functional outcome in schizophrenia may relate to abnormal interactions between the amygdala and mPFC during perception of emotional stimuli. This study adds to the growing literature on abnormal functional connections in schizophrenia and supports the functional disconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Emotion
  • Functional connectivity
  • Schizophrenia
  • fMRI
  • mPFC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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