Verbal communication impairments and cognitive control components in people with schizophrenia

  • Kerns J
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Schizophrenia involves multiple communication impairments, including (a) disorganized speech, or formal thought disorder (FTD); and (b) decreased speech output, or poverty of speech. Both FTD and poverty of speech have been hypothesized to be associated with deficits in executive functioning or cognitive control. The current study examined whether FTD and poverty of speech were differentially associated with two distinct aspects of cognitive control, working memory and controlled retrieval. Compared with control participants (n = 30), people with schizophrenia (n = 47) exhibited poorer performance on both working memory and controlled retrieval tasks. However, only FTD (and not poverty of speech) was associated with poor working memory. In contrast, only poverty of speech (and not FTD) had a significant zero-order association with poor controlled retrieval. At the same time, working memory and controlled retrieval interacted to predict FTD, with the highest amount of FTD associated with both poor working memory and poor controlled retrieval. In contrast, psychometric control tasks were not associated with FTD or poverty of speech. This research suggests that FTD and poverty of speech are differentially associated with deficits in distinct aspects of cognitive control.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Controlled retrieval
  • Formal thought disorder
  • Poverty of speech
  • Schizophrenia
  • Working memory

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  • John G. Kerns

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