Neurobiology of self-awareness in schizophrenia: An fMRI study

Mujeeb U. Shad, Matcheri S. Keshavan, Joel L. Steinberg, Perry Mihalakos, Binu P. Thomas, Michael A. Motes, Jair C. Soares, Carol A. Tamminga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Self-awareness (SA) is one of the core domains of higher cortical functions and is frequently compromised in schizophrenia. Deficits in SA have been associated with functional and psychosocial impairment in this patient population. However, despite its clinical significance, only a few studies have examined the neural substrates of self-referential processing in schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to assess self-awareness in schizophrenia using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm designed to elicit judgments of self-reference in a simulated social context. While scanned, volunteers looked at visually-displayed sentences that had the volunteer's own first name (self-directed sentence-stimulus) or an unknown other person's first name (other-directed sentence stimulus) as the grammatical subject of the sentence. The volunteers were asked to discern whether each sentence-stimulus was about the volunteer personally (during a self-referential cue epoch) or asked whether each statement was about someone else (during an other-referential cue epoch). We predicted that individuals with schizophrenia would demonstrate altered functional activation to self- and other-directed sentence-stimuli as compared to controls. Fifteen controls and seventeen schizophrenia volunteers completed clinical assessments and SA fMRI task on a 3T Philips 3.0. T Achieva system. The results showed significantly greater activation in schizophrenia compared to controls for cortical midline structures in response to self- vs. other-directed sentence-stimuli. These findings support results from earlier studies and demonstrate selective alteration in the activation of cortical midline structures associated with evaluations of self-reference in schizophrenia as compared to controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • FMRI
  • Neurobiology
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self-awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurobiology of self-awareness in schizophrenia: An fMRI study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this