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The social cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia - a review

Lemmers-Jansen, I., Velthorst, E. & Fett, A-K. ORCID: 0000-0003-0282-273X (2023). The social cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia - a review. Translational Psychiatry, 13(1), article number 327. doi: 10.1038/s41398-023-02593-1


In many individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia social functioning is impaired across the lifespan. Social cognition has emerged as one of the possible factors that may contribute to these challenges. Neuroimaging research can give further insights into the underlying mechanisms of social (cognitive) difficulties. This review summarises the evidence on the associations between social cognition in the domains of theory of mind and emotion perception and processing, and individuals' social functioning and social skills, as well as associated neural mechanisms. Eighteen behavioural studies were conducted since the last major review and meta-analysis in the field (inclusion between 7/2017 and 1/2022). No major review has investigated the link between the neural mechanisms of social cognition and their association with social functioning in schizophrenia. Fourteen relevant studies were included (from 1/2000 to 1/2022). The findings of the behavioural studies showed that associations with social outcomes were slightly stronger for theory of mind than for emotion perception and processing. Moreover, performance in both social cognitive domains was more strongly associated with performance on social skill measures than questionnaire-based assessment of social functioning in the community. Studies on the underlying neural substrate of these associations presented mixed findings. In general, higher activation in various regions of the social brain was associated with better social functioning. The available evidence suggests some shared regions that might underlie the social cognition-social outcome link between different domains. However, due to the heterogeneity in approaches and findings, the current knowledge base will need to be expanded before firm conclusions can be drawn.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Publisher Keywords: Human behaviour, Schizophrenia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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