Language comprehension, measured by the Luria-Nebraska Relational Concepts Factor Scale, was evaluated twice in 15 male DSM-III-R schizophrenic patients during a controlled double-blind haloperidol maintenance (without anticholinergics) and placebo replacement protocol. Fifteen male normal controls were tested once. Patients and controls were matched on age and education. Language comprehension was significantly reduced in patients under both pharmacologic conditions, as compared with controls. Patients' comprehension accuracy did not differ significantly between neuroleptic-treatment and placebo replacement conditions. Patients' comprehension accuracy was independent of positive symptoms, anxiety-depression, measures of clinical course, and CSF and plasma monoamines. Comprehension accuracy was also not associated with patients' educational level or WAIS-R measures of their intellectual and short-term memory functioning. Patients' comprehension performance was significantly associated only with the negative symptom anhedonia-asociality during haloperidol maintenance. Thus, language comprehension in schizophrenic patients was independent of changes in pharmacologic treatment and the positive symptoms of psychosis. Results suggest language comprehension may represent a stable or trait characteristic in schizophrenia. © 1995 Society of Biological Psychiatry.
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