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Supplementary Material for: Mirroring the Self: Testing Neurophysiological Correlates of Disturbed Self-Experience in Schizophrenia Spectrum

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posted on 11.01.2017, 14:02 by Sestito M., Raballo A., Umiltà M.A., Leuci E., Tonna M., Fortunati R., De Paola G., Amore M., Maggini C., Gallese V.

Background: Self-disorders (SDs) have been described as a core schizophrenia spectrum vulnerability phenotype, both in classic and contemporary psychopathological literature. However, such a core phenotype has not yet been investigated adopting a trans-domain approach that combines the phenomenological and the neurophysiological levels of analysis. The aim of this study is to investigate the relation between SDs and subtle, schizophrenia-specific impairments of emotional resonance that are supposed to reflect abnormalities in the mirror neurons mechanism. Specifically, we tested whether electromyographic response to emotional stimuli (i.e. a proxy for subtle changes in facial mimicry and related motor resonance mechanisms) would predict the occurrence of anomalous subjective experiences (i.e. SDs). Sampling and Methods: Eighteen schizophrenia spectrum (SzSp) patients underwent a comprehensive psychopathological examination and were contextually tested with a multimodal paradigm, recording facial electromyographic activity of muscles in response to positive and negative emotional stimuli. Experiential anomalies were explored with the Bonn Scale for the Assessment of Basic Symptoms (BSABS) and then condensed into rational subscales mapping SzSp anomalous self-experiences. Results: SzSp patients showed an imbalance in emotional motor resonance with a selective bias toward negative stimuli, as well as a multisensory integration impairment. Multiple regression analysis showed that electromyographic facial reactions in response to negative stimuli presented in auditory modality specifically and strongly correlated with SD subscore. Conclusions: The study confirms the potential of SDs as target phenotype for neurobiological research and encourages research into disturbed motor/emotional resonance as possible body-level correlate of disturbed subjective experiences in SzSp.

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