Investigating thought disorder in schizophrenia: Evidence for pathological activation

Ziad Safadi, Limor Lichtenstein-Vidne, Michael Dobrusin, Avishai Henik

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Abstract

Background: Previous research has yielded evidence for enhanced semantic priming in formal thought-disordered schizophrenia patients, a result that fits well with the hypothesis of disinhibited processes of spreading activation in this population. Objective: The current study examined whether hyper priming among schizophrenia patients is an outcome of further spreading of activation of a node or a result of farther activation of nodes in the semantic network. We also try to shed light on the fate of this activation. Methods: The present study tested this hypothesis by using semantic and identical priming in two different experiments. SOA (stimulus onset asynchrony) was manipulated (240 ms vs. 740 ms) within block. It is assumed that among healthy individuals, performance relies on a balance between activation and inhibition processes, contrary to in schizophrenic individuals. In order to examine this hypothesis, we compared formal thought-disordered schizophrenia patients, non thought-disordered schizophrenia patients, and healthy controls. Results: For thought-disordered schizophrenia patients, we found a large positive semantic effect and identical priming effect (129 ms and 154 ms, respectively) only with short SOA. SOA and type of priming did not modulate priming effects in the control groups. Conclusions: This result supports the claim that there is a lack of inhibitory processes among thought-disordered patients. Hyper priming in the thought-disorder group may be an outcome of hyper activation followed by rapid decay below baseline threshold. Funding: Funded by Ministry of Science, Israel. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere82882
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2013

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