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Eur Psychiatry. 2010 Mar;25(2):80-6. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2009.05.012. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

A failure of conflict to modulate dual-stream processing may underlie the formation and maintenance of delusions.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver B.C., Canada.



Dual-stream information processing proposes that reasoning is composed of two interacting processes: a fast, intuitive system (Stream 1) and a slower, more logical process (Stream 2). In non-patient controls, divergence of these streams may result in the experience of conflict, modulating decision-making towards Stream 2, and initiating a more thorough examination of the available evidence. In delusional schizophrenia patients, a failure of conflict to modulate decision-making towards Stream 2 may reduce the influence of contradictory evidence, resulting in a failure to correct erroneous beliefs.


Delusional schizophrenia patients and non-patient controls completed a deductive reasoning task requiring logical validity judgments of two-part conditional statements. Half of the statements were characterized by a conflict between logical validity (Stream 2) and content believability (Stream 1).


Patients were significantly worse than controls in determining the logical validity of both conflict and non-conflict conditional statements. This between groups difference was significantly greater for the conflict condition.


The results are consistent with the hypothesis that delusional schizophrenia patients fail to use conflict to modulate towards Stream 2 when the two streams of reasoning arrive at incompatible judgments. This finding provides encouraging preliminary support for the Dual-Stream Modulation Failure model of delusion formation and maintenance.

2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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