Subclinical paranoid beliefs and enhanced neural response during processing of unattractive faces

Furger, Stephan; Stahnke, Antje; Zengaffinen, Francilia; Federspiel, Andrea; Morishima, Yosuke; Papmeyer, Martina; Wiest, Roland; Dierks, Thomas; Strik, Werner (2020). Subclinical paranoid beliefs and enhanced neural response during processing of unattractive faces. NeuroImage: Clinical, 27(102269), p. 102269. Elsevier

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The perception of faces and consequent social inferences are fundamental for interpersonal communication. While facial expression is important for interindividual communication, constitutional and acquired features are crucial for basic emotions of attraction or repulsion. An emotional bias in face processing has been shown in schizophrenia, but the neurobiological mechanisms are unclear. Studies on the interaction between face processing and the emotional state of healthy individuals may help to elucidate the pathogenesis of the paranoid syndrome in psychosis. This study addressed facial attractiveness and paranoid ideas in a non-clinical population. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated neural activation patterns of 99 healthy subjects during the passive perception of a dynamic presentation of faces with different attractiveness. We found that the perceived attractiveness of faces was linked to the activity of face processing and limbic regions including the fusiform gyrus, amygdala, and prefrontal areas. Paranoid beliefs interacted with perceived attractiveness in these regions resulting in a higher response range and increased activation after the presentation of unattractive faces. However, no behavioral interactions between reported subjective attractiveness and paranoid beliefs were found. The results showed that increased activation of limbic brain regions is linked to paranoid beliefs. Since similar correlations were found in clinical populations with paranoid syndromes, we suggest a dimension of emotional dysregulation ranging from subclinical paranoid beliefs to paranoid schizophrenia.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)

UniBE Contributor:

Furger, Stephan Niklaus, Stahnke, Antje, Zengaffinen, Francilia Sabrina, Federspiel, Andrea, Morishima, Yosuke, Papmeyer, Martina, Wiest, Roland Gerhard Rudi, Dierks, Thomas, Strik, Werner


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Stephan Niklaus Furger

Date Deposited:

10 Jun 2020 14:44

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:33

Publisher DOI:

PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Face Perception; Dynamic Faces; Paranoid Beliefs; Amygdala; fMRI; SyNoPsis




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