Meta-Analysis of Face Processing Event-Related Potentials in Schizophrenia

  • Amanda McCleery
    Address correspondence to Amanda McCleery, Ph.D., UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, 300 Medical Plaza, Room 2213, Los Angeles, CA 90095
    UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Junghee Lee
    UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Aditi Joshi
    Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Jonathan K. Wynn
    UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California

    Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California
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  • Gerhard S. Hellemann
    UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Michael F. Green
    UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California

    Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California
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      Schizophrenia is associated with impaired face processing. N170 and N250 are two event-related potentials that have been studied in relation to face processing in schizophrenia, but the results have been mixed. The aim of this article was to conduct a meta-analysis of N170 and N250 in schizophrenia to evaluate trends and resolve the inconsistencies.


      Twenty-one studies of N170 (n = 438 schizophrenia patients, n = 418 control subjects) and six studies of N250 (n = 149 schizophrenia patients, n = 151 control subjects) were evaluated. Hedges’ g was calculated for each study, and the overall weighted mean effect size (ES) was calculated for N170 and N250. Homogeneity of the ES distributions, potential publication bias, and impact of potential moderators were also assessed.


      The amplitude of both N170 and N250 to face stimuli was smaller in patients than control subjects (N170 ES = .64; N250 ES = .49; ps < .001). The distributions of the ES were homogeneous (ps > .90), and there was no indication of a publication bias. We found no significant effect of task requirements regarding judgments of the face stimuli. Moreover, we found no significant difference between the ES for N170 and N250.


      Though findings of individual studies have been mixed, the results of the meta-analysis strongly support disruption of N170 and N250 in schizophrenia. The comparable effect sizes across the two waveforms suggest that the well-established behavioral deficit in face emotion processing is mirrored in an underlying neural impairment for processing faces.


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