Semantics, pragmatics, and formal thought disorders in people with schizophrenia
Carlos Salavera, Miguel Puyuelo, José L Antoñanzas, Pilar Teruel
Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
Background: The aim of this study was to analyze how formal thought disorders (FTD) affect semantics and pragmatics in patients with schizophrenia.
Methods: The sample comprised subjects with schizophrenia (n = 102) who met the criteria for the disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition Text Revision. In the research process, the following scales were used: Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) for psychopathology measurements; the Scale for the Assessment of Thought, Language, and Communication (TLC) for FTD, Word Accentuation Test (WAT), System for the Behavioral Evaluation of Social Skills (SECHS), the pragmatics section of the Objective Criteria Language Battery (BLOC-SR) and the verbal sections of the Wechsler Adults Intelligence Scale (WAIS) III, for assessment of semantics and pragmatics.
Results: The results in the semantics and pragmatics sections were inferior to the average values obtained in the general population. Our data demonstrated that the more serious the FTD, the worse the performances in the Verbal-WAIS tests (particularly in its vocabulary, similarities, and comprehension sections), SECHS, and BLOC-SR, indicating that FTD affects semantics and pragmatics, although the results of the WAT indicated good premorbid language skills.
Conclusion: The principal conclusion we can draw from this study is the evidence that in schizophrenia the superior level of language structure seems to be compromised, and that this level is related to semantics and pragmatics; when there is an alteration in this level, symptoms of FTD appear, with a wide-ranging relationship between both language and FTD. The second conclusion is that the subject’s language is affected by the disorder and rules out the possibility of a previous verbal impairment.
Keywords: schizophrenia, formal thought disorder, semantics, pragmatics
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