The present article reviews findings from behavioral, structural and functional studies on facial recognition in patients with schizophrenia. Behavioral studies of face processing have indicated schizophrenia-related deficits in the formation and retention of memory for face configuration information. Moreover, evidence suggests that face recognition deficits in patients with schizophrenia and their families are not secondarily generalized to object memory, and may constitute an endophenotype.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have characterized schizophrenia by the loss of gray matter, which may be related to problems in social relationships. The fusiform gyrus (FG) is a key brain region for face perception. Brain morphometric studies have indicated that FG abnormalities are associated with the pathophysiology of schizophrenia at least to some extent. However, functional MRI studies on the role of the FG in schizophrenia have provided mixed results.
Event-related potential studies have reported that schizophrenia patients exhibit a reduction in N170 amplitude specific to faces, indicating that the neuronal populations involved in face perception may be specifically reduced in patients with schizophrenia. Moreover, schizophrenia may be characterized by modulation deficits of the N170 in response to different face stimuli. Finally, it has been reported that abnormal face processing is related with social dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia. Studies of face processing deficits can provide important information about the pathophysiology of patients with schizophrenia.