One of the main reasons Schizophrenia has such unfavorable functioning is due to an impairment of cognitive functioning. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions significantly affect the ways in which an individual is able to interact with others and the way the individual views situations. These symptoms have been the main ways in which schizophrenia is diagnosed.However, there has been a recent change in focus to neurocognitive factors to determine the functional impairment of one with this disorder. Social abilities of one suffering from schizophrenia is a major determination of the prognosis.
One way neuroimaging has been used to study the social cognition of schizophrenic individuals is through facial emotion recognition. Hironobu Fujiwara, Wallid Yassin, and Toshiya Murai studied the correlation between amygdala size and how people with schizophrenia recognized facial emotions. As compared to the control group, individuals with schizophrenia had smaller amygdalas and also did worse in facial emotion recognition. Alexithymia, the inability to recognize one’s personal emotional state, was also found through neuroimaging to be an essential characteristic of schizophrenia, another social cognitive impairment.
Due to social cognition being imperative of social functioning, neuroimaging has shown that the parts of the brain that correlate with reduced quality of life overlaps with that of an individual with schizophrenia’s social cognitive impairments. While research into the social cognitive impairments of schizophrenia continues to grow, we start to notice the complexities surrounding this issue. We need to not only take into account different characteristics surrounding the social cognitive impairments but also, the ways in which the impaired brain functioning also correlates with these impairments.