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This article is part of the Research Topic Neural processing of emotion in multimodal settings

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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 18 October 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00674

Attention and multisensory integration of emotions in schizophrenia

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Medical School, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  • 2IZKF Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  • 3JARA – Translational Brain Medicine, Aachen, Germany
  • 4Laboratory for Perceptual Dynamics, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

The impairment of multisensory integration in schizophrenia is often explained by deficits of attentional selection. Emotion perception, however, does not always depend on attention because affective stimuli can capture attention automatically. In our study, we specify the role of attention in the multisensory perception of emotional stimuli in schizophrenia. We evaluated attention by interference between conflicting auditory and visual information in two multisensory paradigms in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants. In the first paradigm, interference occurred between physical features of the dynamic auditory and visual stimuli. In the second paradigm, interference occurred between the emotional content of the auditory and visual stimuli, namely fearful and sad emotions. In patients with schizophrenia, the interference effect was observed in both paradigms. In contrast, in healthy participants, the interference occurred in the emotional paradigm only. These findings indicate that the information leakage between different modalities in patients with schizophrenia occurs at the perceptual level, which is intact in healthy participants. However, healthy participants can have problems with the separation of fearful and sad emotions similar to those of patients with schizophrenia.

Keywords: schizophrenia, attention, multisensory integration, emotions, interference

Citation: Zvyagintsev M, Parisi C, Chechko N, Nikolaev AR and Mathiak K (2013) Attention and multisensory integration of emotions in schizophrenia. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:674. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00674

Received: 06 June 2013; Accepted: 26 September 2013;
Published online: 18 October 2013.

Edited by:

Benjamin Kreifelts, University of Tübingen, Germany

Reviewed by:

Gregor R. Szycik, Hannover Medical School, Germany
Diana Robins, Georgia State University, USA

Copyright © 2013 Zvyagintsev, Parisi, Chechko, Nikolaev and Mathiak. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Mikhail Zvyagintsev, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany e-mail: mzvyagintsev@ukaachen.de