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BACKGROUND: Emotional impairments are important determinants of functional outcome in psychosis, and current treatments are not particularly effective. Modafinil is a wake-promoting drug that has been shown to improve emotion discrimination in healthy individuals and attention and executive function in schizophrenia. We aimed to establish whether modafinil might have a role in the adjuvant treatment of emotional impairments in the first episode of psychosis, when therapeutic endeavor is arguably most vital. METHODS: Forty patients with a first episode of psychosis participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design study testing the effects of a single dose of 200 mg modafinil on neuropsychological performance. Emotional functions were evaluated with the emotional face recognition test, the affective go-no go task, and the reward and punishment learning test. Visual analogue scales were used throughout the study to assess subjective mood changes. RESULTS: Modafinil significantly improved the recognition of sad facial expressions (z = 2.98, p = .003). In contrast, there was no effect of modafinil on subjective mood ratings, on tasks measuring emotional sensitivity to reward or punishment, or on interference of emotional valence on cognitive function, as measured by the affective go-no go task. CONCLUSIONS: Modafinil improves the analysis of emotional face expressions. This might enhance social function in people with a first episode of psychosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Psychiatry

Publication Date





457 - 464


Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Benzhydryl Compounds, Central Nervous System Stimulants, Cognition, Cross-Over Studies, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Discrimination (Psychology), Double-Blind Method, Emotions, Facial Expression, Female, Humans, Learning, Limbic System, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Psychotic Disorders, Punishment, Recognition (Psychology), Reward, Social Perception, Young Adult