Forming first impressions of others in schizophrenia: Impairments in fast processing and in use of spatial frequency information

J. Vakhrusheva, V. Zemon, M. Bar, N. G. Weiskopf, F. Tremeau, E. Petkova, Z. Su, I. Y. Abeles, P. D. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Individuals form first impressions of others all the time, which affects their social functioning. Typical adults form threat impressions in faces with neutral expressions quickly, requiring less than 40. ms. These impressions appear to be mediated by low spatial frequency (LSF) content in the images. Little is known, however, about mechanisms of first impression formation in schizophrenia. The current study investigated how quickly individuals with schizophrenia can form consistent impressions of threat compared with controls and explored the mechanisms involved. Patients and controls were presented intact, LSF- or high spatial frequency (HSF)-filtered faces with durations that varied from 39 to 1703. ms and were asked to rate how threatening each face was on a scale from 1 to 5. In order to assess the speed of impression formation for intact faces, correlations were calculated for ratings made at each duration compared to a reference duration of 1703. ms for each group. Controls demonstrated a significant relation for intact faces presented for 39. ms, whereas patients required 390. ms to demonstrate a significant relation with the reference duration. For controls, LSFs primarily contributed to the formation of consistent threat impressions at 39. ms, whereas patients showed a trend for utilizing both LSF and HSF information to form consistent threat impressions at 390. ms. Results indicate that individuals with schizophrenia require a greater integration time to form a stable "first impression" of threat, which may be related to the need to utilize compensatory mechanisms such as HSF, as well as LSF, information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • First impressions
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social cognition
  • Spatial frequency
  • Threat
  • Visual processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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