Psychiatry Investig.  2020 May;17(5):452-459. 10.30773/pi.2019.0320.

Neural Basis of Ambivalence towards Ideal Self-Image in Schizophrenia

  • 1Institute of Behavioral Science in Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea


Little has been explored about a reflection towards self-image in schizophrenia, though it can be related to heterogeneous symptoms of the illness. We identified the neural basis of ambivalence towards ideal self-image in patients with schizophrenia.
20 patients with schizophrenia and 20 healthy controls underwent functional MRI while the self-image reflection tasks of determining whether to agree with sentences describing their actual or ideal self-image that contained one of the adjective pairs with opposite valence. The interaction between the group and ideal ambivalence score was examined, and group differences in functional connectivity related to ambivalence towards ideal self-image were further studied.
The interaction of group-by-ideal ambivalence score was shown in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, where activities were positively correlated with the level of ideal self-image ambivalence in patients, but not in controls. Task-related decrease in functional connectivity was shown between the orbitofrontal cortex and cerebellum in patients.
The process of reflecting on ambivalent ideal self-image in schizophrenia may be related to aberrant prefrontal activity and connectivity. Abnormality in the prefrontal regions that take part in cognitive conflict monitoring and value judgment may underlie the pathophysiology of increased ambivalence towards ideal self-image.


Schizophrenia, Self-image, Ambivalence, Functional magnetic resonance imaging
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