Attention and automaticity in semantic processing of schizophrenic patients

Avishai Henik, Beatrice Priel, Roberto Umansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Several authors have attributed much of the cognitive dysfunction revealed in schizophrenia to a deficient attentional mechanism. At the same time several studies have suggested that this limited resource (i.e., attention) is involved in accessing and activating concepts within our semantic network. The present study investigates automatic and attentional processes that are involved in accessing and activating concepts within the semantic network. In two experiments with schizophrenic patients and controls, it was found that both groups showed comparable priming effects under long stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) conditions, while the effect was less reliable in the patient population under the short SOA condition. Identical priming was present regardless of SOA conditions. The present results contribute to the analysis of the specific deficits characteristic of attentional processes in schizophrenia: while the lexical access is not different from normal, the spread of activation seems to be slowed down but may be compensated when time allows for it. These effects are discussed in the context of recent findings qualifying the automaticity of the spread of activation within the semantic network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalNeuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1992


  • Automaticity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stimulus onset asynchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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