Possible evidence on why people with schizophrenia might have difficulty in understanding the actions of other people has been found by Vanderbilt University researchers.
They have discovered that impairments in a brain area involved in perception of social stimuli may be partly responsible for this difficulty.
"Misunderstanding social situations and interactions are core deficits in schizophrenia," said Sohee Park, Gertrude Conaway Professor of Psychology and one of the co-authors on this study.
"Our findings may help explain the origins of some of the delusions involving perception and thoughts experienced by those with schizophrenia," he said.
They found that a particular brain area, the posterior superior temporal sulcus or STS, appears to be implicated in this deficit.
"Using brain imaging together with perceptual testing, we found that a brain area in a neural network involved in perception of social stimuli responds abnormally in individuals with schizophrenia," said Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology and co-author of the study.
"We found this brain area fails to distinguish genuine biological motion from highly distorted versions of that motion," he said.
The study's lead author, Jejoong Kim, completed the experiments under the supervision of Park and Blake in Vanderbilt's Department of Psychology.
The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.