Stimulus-dependent effects on right ear advantage in schizophrenia
Jason Smucny,1,3 Korey Wylie,3 Jason Tregellas1–3
1Neuroscience Program, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 2Research Science, Denver VA Medical, Center, 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA
Background: When presented with different sounds in each ear (dichotic listening), healthy subjects typically show a preference for stimuli heard in the right ear, an effect termed "right ear advantage". Previous studies examining right ear advantage in schizophrenia have been inconsistent, showing either decreased or increased advantage relative to comparison subjects. Given evidence for enhanced semantic processing in schizophrenia, some of this inconsistency may be due to the type of stimuli presented (words or syllables). The present study examined right ear advantage in patients and controls using both words and syllables as stimuli.
Methods: Right ear advantage was compared between 20 patients with schizophrenia and 17 healthy controls. Two versions of the task were used, ie, a consonant-vowel pairing task and a fused rhymed words task.
Results: A significant group × task interaction was observed. Relative to healthy controls, patients showed a greater difference on the syllable-based task compared with the word-based task. The number of distractors marked during the syllable-based task was inversely correlated with score on the Global Assessment of Function Scale.
Conclusion: The findings are consistent with a left hemisphere dysfunction in schizophrenia, but also suggest that differences may be stimulus-specific, with a relative sparing of the deficit in the context of word stimuli. Performance may be related to measures of social, occupational, and psychological function.
Keywords: schizophrenia, right ear advantage, dichotic, distraction
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