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Psychiatry Res. 2014 Aug 15;218(1-2):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.04.020. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Alexithymia in schizophrenia: associations with neurocognition and emotional distress.

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University of Indianapolis, School of Psychological Sciences, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Electronic address:


While alexithymia, or difficulties identifying and describing affect, has been commonly observed in schizophrenia, little is known about its causes and correlates. To test the hypothesis that deficits in emotion identification and expression result from, or are at least related to, deficits in neurocognition and affective symptoms, we assessed alexithymia using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), symptoms using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and neurocognition using the MATRICS battery among 65 adults with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in a non-acute phase of illness. Partial correlations controlling for the effects of social desirability revealed that difficulty identifying feelings and externally oriented thinking were linked with greater levels of neurocognitive deficits, while difficulty describing feelings was related to heightened levels of emotional distress. To explore whether neurocognition and affective symptoms were uniquely related to alexithymia, a multiple regression was conducted in which neurocognitive scores and affective symptoms were allowed to enter to predict overall levels of alexithymia after controlling for social desirability. Results revealed both processing speed and anxiety uniquely contributed to the prediction of the total score on the TAS-20. Results suggest that dysfunctions in both cognitive and affective processes may be related to alexithymia in schizophrenia independently of one another.


Alexithymia; Anxiety; Depression; MATRICS; Neurocognition; Schizophrenia; Social cognition

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