Language could be conceptualized as a dynamic system that includes multiple interactive levels (sub-lexical, lexical, sentence, and discourse) and components (phonology, semantics, and syntax). In schizophrenia, abnormalities are observed at all language elements (levels and components) but the dynamic between these elements remains unclear. We hypothesize that the dynamics between language elements in schizophrenia is abnormal and explore how this dynamic is altered. We, first, investigated language elements with comparable procedures in patients and healthy controls. Second, using measures of reaction time, we performed multiple linear regression analyses to evaluate the inter-relationships among language elements and the effect of group on these relationships. Patients significantly differed from controls with respect to sub-lexical/lexical, lexical/sentence, and sentence/discourse regression coefficients. The intercepts of the regression slopes increased in the same order above (from lower to higher levels) in patients but not in controls. Regression coefficients between syntax and both sentence level and discourse level semantics did not differentiate patients from controls. This study indicates that the dynamics between language elements is abnormal in schizophrenia. In patients, top-down flow of linguistic information might be reduced, and the relationship between phonology and semantics but not between syntax and semantics appears to be altered.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by grants from the VA Medical Center .