The Social-Emotional Processing Stream: Five Core
Constructs and Their Translational Potential for
Schizophrenia and Beyond
Kevin N. Ochsner
Cognitive neuroscience approaches to translational research have made great strides toward understanding basic mechanisms
of dysfunction and their relation to cognitive deficits, such as thought disorder in schizophrenia. The recent emergence of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience has paved the way for similar progress to be made in explaining the mechanisms underlying the social and emotional dysfunctions (i.e., negative symptoms) of schizophrenia and that characterize virtually all DSM Axis I and II disorders more broadly.
This article aims to provide a roadmap for this work by distilling from the emerging literature on the neural bases of social and emotional abilities a set of key constructs that can be used to generate questions about the mechanisms of clinical dysfunction in general and schizophrenia in particular.
To achieve these aims, the first part of this article sketches a framework of five constructs that comprise a social-emotional processing stream. The second part considers how future basic research might flesh out this framework and translational work might relate it to schizophrenia and other clinical populations.
Although the review suggests there is more basic research needed for each construct, two in particular—one involving the bottom-up recognition of social and emotional cues, the second involving the use of top-down processes to draw mental state inferences are most ready for translational work.