olfaction, empathy, olfactory, hedonics, schizophrenia
Empathy represents one multifaceted component of social cognition that is thought to be significantly impaired in individuals with schizophrenia. Psychophysical tasks of smell identification and hedonic processing of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant odors share common neural networks involved in empathy. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between odor identification, odor ratings, and self-reported empathy in 25 outpatients with schizophrenia and 25 nonpsychiatric individuals. Group differences on empathy scores and unirhinal smell identification performance (with hedonic and intensity ratings) were examined, along with the relationships between smell identification scores, self-reported empathy, and schizophrenia symptomatology. The preliminary findings suggest that individuals with schizophrenia display significant differences from controls on measures of self-reported empathy, odor identification, and hedonic ratings of odors. Deficits in self-reported global and affective empathy were influenced by group and sex, whereas cognitive empathy was reduced across all patients in comparison to controls. Patients displayed reduced unirhinal odor identification accuracy for pleasant but not neutral or unpleasant odors in comparison to controls. Central to the overall aim of the current study, a robust positive correlation was observed between left- and right-nostril hedonic ratings for pleasant odors and self-reported global and affective empathy scores across all participants. In patients, we also found a statistical trend between affective empathy and left-nostril identification accuracy across all odors. Collectively, the results lend support to the role of olfactory-limbic brain regions in the hedonic processing of odors and suggest that aberrant performance observed in schizophrenia may be related to abnormalities in the anatomical and physiological substrates that also subserve empathy.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kamath, Vidyulata, "Association Between Unirhinal Olfactory Processing And Self-reported Empathy In Schizophrenia" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 3949.