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Schizophr Res. 2018 Dec 17. pii: S0920-9964(18)30689-3. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.12.004. [Epub ahead of print]

The linguistic signature of hallucinated voice talk in schizophrenia.

Author information

1
Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, C/ Roc Boronat, 138, 08018 Barcelona, Spain.
2
FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation, C/ Dr. Antoni Pujadas, 38, 08830 Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; CIBERSAM, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Spain.
3
Benito Menni Complex Assistencial de Salut Mental, C/ Dr. Antoni Pujadas, 38, 08830 Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.
4
Hospital Sant Rafael, Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron, 107, 08035 Barcelona, Spain.
5
Parc de Salut Mar, Passeig Marítim 25-29, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.
6
Centro Neuropsiquiátrico N. S. del Carmen, Camino del Abejar, 100, 50190 Zaragoza, Spain.
7
Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, C/ Roc Boronat, 138, 08018 Barcelona, Spain; FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation, C/ Dr. Antoni Pujadas, 38, 08830 Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; Catalan Institute for Advanced Studies and Research, ICREA, Passeig de Lluís Companys, 23, 08010 Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: wolfram.hinzen@upf.edu.

Abstract

Very few studies have investigated the formal linguistic aspects of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs), though speech is a defining aspect of AVHs. Hallucinated speech heard by 19 patients with schizophrenia and highly frequent voices was obtained online, as and when they spoke, and annotated for pre-selected linguistic variables. Results showed that, consistently across the sample, (i) the grammatical first Person was significantly less represented than both second and third person, and often absent altogether; (ii) overwhelmingly, isolated clauses with no grammatical connectivity (parataxis) were produced, as compared with subordinations, coordinations, and adjunctions; (iii) in all participants except one, virtually no noun phrases (NPs) were anaphoric ones, back-referring to previous NPs, illustrating again a lack of connectivity across utterances. (vi) Sentence-level content was largely personal rather than impersonal, and in impersonal utterances, it was generally vague. (v) Formal syntactic errors were consistently nearly absent, as were semantic level errors such as paraphasias. Voice talk was not generally stereotyped. These results indicate that, despite a certain amount of individual variation, there is a distinctive linguistic profile to voice speech, which constrains theories of AVHs and their neurocognitive basis.

KEYWORDS:

Auditory verbal hallucinations; First person; Grammar; Language; Schizophrenia

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