Perception of Affective Musical Elements and the Relation to Delusions in Schizophrenia
Using prosodic, facial, and musical stimuli, this study probed the extent of emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenic patients. Difficulties in the perception of emotional material have been well documented in the literature. Here, we examined the perception of emotion in music and whether or not schizophrenic patients show the same dysfunction in this domain as they do in the domains of facial and speech emotion. 15 patients, and 15 healthy controls listened to and rated 40 instrumental music clips expressing either a happy, sad, calm, or scary emotion. Participants were also asked to choose which emotion they thought best characterized the song as a whole. We then compared the ratings of each song across groups, as well as overall accuracy on the task. Psychophysiological skin conductance data was collected, but the results were shown to be inconclusive. Patients were significantly impaired in determining the correct emotion of each song, showing specific deficits in recognizing scary songs. In addition, patients significantly overrated the perceived happiness of each song type as compared to controls. Overrating of the happiness of scary songs was highly correlated with each subscale of the PDI in both patients and controls. Performance on the task was also shown to be related to delusion scores in patients, and to schizotypal personality scores in controls. These results suggest that the inability to extract affective information from sounds may result from subjective misinterpretation of auditory cues, and may play a role in increasing delusions.