Background

Emotion dysregulation is crucial to both poor social functioning and psychotic symptom formation in patients with schizophrenia. The efficient use of emotion regulation strategies, such as cognitive reappraisal, has been less frequently observed in the early phases of psychotic disorder. It is unknown whether neurophysiological responses related to emotion regulation by cognitive reappraisal are altered in early psychosis.

Methods

Fifty-four patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP), 34 subjects at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis, and 30 healthy controls (HCs) participated in event-related potential recordings during a validated emotion regulation paradigm to measure the effect of cognitive reappraisal on emotion regulation. Late positive potentials (LPPs), which reflect emotional arousal, were compared across the groups and the 3 conditions (negative, cognitive reappraisal, and neutral). The relationship among LPP modulation by cognitive reappraisal and social/role functioning and severity of psychotic symptoms was investigated in the early psychosis group.

Results

The FEP and CHR participants showed comparably larger LPP amplitudes in the negative and cognitive reappraisal conditions than in the neutral condition, whereas the HCs presented larger LPPs in the negative condition than in the cognitive reappraisal and neutral conditions. LPP modulation by cognitive reappraisal was negatively correlated with positive symptom severity in the FEP patients and with disorganization severity in the CHR subjects.

Conclusions

Inefficient use of cognitive reappraisal may be related to the impaired emotion regulation and psychotic symptoms from the very beginning of psychotic disorder. This study provides the first neurophysiological evidence regarding current concepts of emotion regulation in early psychosis.

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