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Neural responses to criticism and praise vary with schizotypy and perceived emotional support

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Preethi Premkumar, Miguel Granja Espírito Santo, Juliana Onwumere, Martin Schürmann, Veena Kumari, Stephanie Blanco, Joshua Baker, Elizabeth Kuipers

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of psychophysiology
Early online date19 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Schizotypy is a latent organisation of a cluster of personality styles, such as magical thinking, disorganisation and anhedonia, which are in the normal range of the psychosis continuum. Schizotypy relates to an increased likelihood of perceiving expressed emotion (EE). EE is characterised by criticism, rejection, and emotional over-involvement and less warmth from a close relative. Neuroimaging studies have found normal frontal lobe activation to EE-criticism in people with high schizotypy. Alternatively, electroencephalography measures emotion processing, such as frontal theta power and occipital alpha power. Frontal theta power responds to cognitive and affective processes and occipital alpha power denotes less consciousness and emotional attention. This study aimed to determine the relation of these electroencephalography responses during criticism and praise to perceived emotional support. Participants (n = 32) representing the full (low-to-high) range of positive schizotypy listened to and rated the self-relevance of EE-like criticism and praise and affectively neutral comments while undergoing electroencephalography. Participants completed self-report measures of schizotypy, depression and anxiety. A subset of those with a high positive schizotypy score (n = 22) completed a measure of perceived EE - lack of emotional support. Higher perceived EE - lack of emotional support correlated with lower frontal theta power and lower occipital alpha power during criticism and praise in schizotypal participants. The findings suggest that these neural responses may relate to less perceived emotional support in people with high schizotypy, of which a reduction of frontal theta power denotes less emotional arousal and lower occipital alpha power denotes more alertness to emotional information may relate to less perceived emotional support in people with high schizotypy.

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