Methods: Forty-nine individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 158 healthy participants were imaged using functional magnetic resonance imaging during a dynamic facial emotion recognition task. Plasma IL-6 was measured from blood samples taken outside the scanner. Multiple regression was used in statistical parametric mapping software to test whether higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased neural response during task performance.
Results: Higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased bilateral medial prefrontal response during neutral face processing compared to angry face processing in the total sample (N = 207, tmax = 5.67) and increased left insula response during angry face processing compared to neutral face processing (N = 207, tmax = 4.40) (p < 0.05, family-wise error corrected across the whole brain at the cluster level).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that higher peripheral IL-6 levels predict altered neural response within brain regions involved in social cognition and emotion during facial emotion recognition. This is consistent with recent neuroimaging research on IL-6 and suggesting a possible neural mechanism by which this cytokine might affect facial emotion recognition accuracy.
- Facial emotion recognition