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Language phenomenon in schizophrenia

Speaker: Assoc. Prof. Daria Smirnova, MD, PhD (Psychiatry), International Centre for Education and Research in Neuropsychiatry, Samara State Medical University, Samara, Russia

This lecture introduces the psycholinguistic approach in schizophrenia research and the central role of language disturbances in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia. The variety of manifestations of thought, language and communication disorder in schizophrenia, represents the core features of this heterogenous group of disorders. The topic of language decline in schizophrenia, from the historical perspective of its origins in the early 20th century and through the prism of current research in applied neurosciences, is reviewed in details. In current linguistic models, language neural circuits are described as underlying the basic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as auditory verbal hallucinations, delusions, and formal thought disorder. Moreover, language deterioration is associated with impaired cognition, negative symptoms domain, poor social functioning and poor outcome for people with schizophrenia. Language impairments of schizophrenia, in particular, decreased verbal fluency and a selective deficit in the production of action verbs, are considered to have hereditary nature and to be the part of cognitive endophenotype of schizophrenia. On the other hand, second language acquisition is not impaired in schizophrenia, and bilingualism may serve as a compensatory resource to maintain verbal fluency. Therapeutic strategies such as cognitive remediation or action language treatment, which target to restore language dysfunction, hold some promise for supporting high quality remission from devastating symptoms in schizophrenia.