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Impaired Global Discourse Processing

We examined whether deficits in controlled integration and maintenance of discourse context in schizophrenia resulted in impairments in discourse comprehension, but relatively spares processing of meanings of words and sentence structures. To do so we combined electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) measures of language comprehension with measures of cognitive, social and occupational functioning in schizophrenia.  Our approach allowed us to examine whether discourse comprehension deficits in schizophrenia relate to impaired cognitive, social and occupational functioning. Our results showed that, in contrast to healthy control participants, individuals with schizophrenia patients only showed effects of discourse congruence when targets were primed by a word in the local context.  We further found that ERP measures of increased reliance on local priming predicted reduced social functioning, suggesting that alterations in the neural mechanisms underlying discourse comprehension have functional consequences in the illness.


Swaab, T.Y., Boudewyn, M.A., Long, D.L., Luck, S.L., Kring, A., Ragland, D., Ranganath, C., Lesh, T., Niendam, T.A., Solomon, M. Mangun, G.R. & Carter, C. (2013). Spared and Impaired Spoken Discourse Processing in Schizophrenia: Effects of Local and Global Language Context. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(39), 15578-87