© 2015 Wang, Liu, Li, Wei, Jiang, Neumann, Shum, Cheung and Chan.Impairment in empathy has been demonstrated in patients with schizophrenia and individuals with psychosis proneness. In the present study, we examined the neural correlates underlying theory of mind (ToM) and empathy and the relationships between these two social cognitive abilities with schizotypy. Fifty-six first-year college students (31 males, 25 females) between 17 and 21 years of age (M = 19.3, SD = 0.9) from a medical university in China participated. All participants undertook a comic strips functional imaging task that specifically examined both empathy and ToM. In addition, they completed two self-report scales: the Chapman Psychosis Proneness scale and the Interpersonal Responsivity Index (IRI). Results showed that both empathy and ToM conditions of the task were associated with brain activity in the middle temporal gyrus, the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), the precuneus and the posterior cingulate gyrus. In addition, we found positive correlations between negative schizotypy and brain activity in regions involved in social cognition, namely, the middle temporal gyrus, the TPJ, as well as the medial prefrontal gyrus. These findings highlight that different dimensions of schizotypy may show different associations with brain regions involved in social cognitive abilities. More importantly, the positive correlation between brain activity and anhedonia suggests the presence of compensatory mechanisms in high-risk populations.
- Theory of mind
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience