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Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2014;19(4):337-58. doi: 10.1080/13546805.2013.870069. Epub 2014 Jan 13.

Verbatim recall in formal thought disorder in schizophrenia: a study of contextual influences.

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a Department of Psychology, King's College London , Institute of Psychiatry , London , UK.



We have previously reported that people with schizophrenia and formal thought disorder (FTD) were disproportionately impaired in recalling sentences verbatim and in judging their plausibility. We proposed that these deficits were due to impairment in integrating higher-order semantic information to construct a global whole. However, it is also possible that a lower-level linguistic problem affecting lexical activation could account for this pattern.


The present study analysed and compared the sentence repetition errors produced by people with FTD, people with schizophrenia who were non-FTD and healthy controls. Errors due to failure of activation of the target lexical items were differentiated from those due to erroneous integration of information.


People with FTD produced significantly more unrelated lexical substitutions and omissions in their corpora than the other two groups, indicating an impairment of activation. In addition, they made significantly more erroneous contextual inferences and unrelated references, suggesting they were impaired in reconstructing the global whole from successfully activated items.


These findings are consistent with a dual process account of impairments in FTD. Difficulties in repeating and judging sentence acceptability arises due to a combination of difficulty with activation and deficits in using linguistic context to process and produce speech. It is suggested that processing difficulties in FTD result from an impairment in using semantic context to drive lexical access and construction of a global whole.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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