Risperidone improves facial recognition in schizophrenia
23 April 2010
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London have proved for the first time that brain response to emotional facial expressions can be greatly improved in schizophrenia patients with the aid of risperidone long-acting injections (RLAI).
Reading others’ facial expressions is an important aspect of social interaction and is a large component of developing interpersonal relationships, however, schizophrenia sufferers are recognised as having limited facial recognition abilities.
The study involved testing different anti-psychotics by administering 16 chronic schizophrenia patients with traditional long-acting anti-psychotics while another 16 patients received RLAI.
The results show that the brain response pattern when observing different facial emotions in patients treated with RLAI is close to that of healthy volunteers. In contrast, the brain patterns in those treated with traditional long-acting anti-psychotics showed abnormal responses.
Dr Simon Surguladze, who led the study, said: 'Although some patients don’t like taking injections every fortnight, many prefer RLAI because it offers a sustained delivery of the drug, as opposed to traditional oral medication.'
He continues: 'Further research is needed to analyse patients on traditional medication who then switch to RLAI treatment. If the ‘normalisation’ of brain response is replicated, then there is real promise that RLAI improves the brain mechanisms responsible for facial recognition.'
The research paper, ‘Emotional processing in schizophrenia: fMRI study of patients treated with risperidone long-acting injections or conventional depot medication’ was published in the April edition of Journal of Psychopharmacology. The principal investigator on the research was Anthony David, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, at the Institute of Psychiatry. To read the paper in full, follow the link: http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/04/01/0269881110363316.abstract.