Award Date

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel Allen

Second Committee Member

Murray Millar

Third Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Fourth Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Number of Pages



Emotion regulation and emotion processing deficits cut across the varying symptom presentations of schizophrenia. Emotion processing deficits are inadequately treated by pharmacologic interventions and are related to real-world functional impact and disability. This study investigated behavioral and psychophysiological responses to a series of emotion regulation tasks while concurrently collecting eye tracking data as an index of visual attention. A brief neurocognitive assessment was also completed in order to examine potential cognitive determinants of emotion. Participants completed tasks designed to assess cognitive change and directed attention strategies for down-regulation of unpleasant and pleasant emotion. For each of our two unpleasant emotion tasks (Windows and Descriptors), participants were presented stimuli in three conditions: Unpleasantly described or focused unpleasant images, neutrally described or focused unpleasant images, and neutral images described neutrally. Twenty three participants (14 Controls; CN) completed study procedures. For the unpleasant tasks, participants with schizophrenia (SZ) reported increased unpleasantness relative to controls; however, psychophysiological indices were suggestive of attenuated emotional response, when significant. Executive functioning was associated with unpleasantness ratings and heart rate change for unpleasantly focused unpleasant stimuli in a directed attention task. Directed attention indices as evidenced by eye-tracking were non-contributory. The present data clarify findings from previous research on emotion in schizophrenia and suggest that there may be a miss-match between self-report and emotional experience in this population or a breakdown of peripheral nervous system responses related to emotional experience.


Cognition; Emotion; Eye Tracking; Psychophysiology; Schizophrenia; Visual


Mental and Social Health | Psychology

File Format


File Size

1.0 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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