Hemispheric Asymmetry in Prosody Perception by Healthy Subjects and Schizophrenic Patients

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The interhemispheric interactions in perception of Russian prosody were studied in the norm and in schizophrenia as a clinical model of impaired hemispheric interactions. Monaural presentation of stimuli and binaural presentation in a free acoustical field were used. Sentences with main variants of Russian prosodic intonations were used as stimuli. The response time and the number of erroneous responses were recorded. In binaural listening without headphones, no significant difference in the percent of errors in identifying the emotional prosody was found between healthy subjects and schizophrenics. Compared with the healthy subjects, the patients made more errors in understanding the logical stress and fewer errors in understanding the syntagmatic segmentation. By response time, a significant dominance of the left ear was revealed in the healthy subjects during monaural listening to sentences with emotional prosody and complete or incomplete sentences, whereas no significant ear dominance was found in the schizophrenics. During monaural listening to sentences with logical stress, the response time was shorter when stimuli were presented to the right ear both in the healthy subjects and in the schizophrenics. The results testified that the functional brain asymmetry in schizophrenics is flattened. The flattening was less evident in the perception of a logical stress in a sentence and did not significantly affect the efficiency of identification of emotional prosody and syntagmatic segmentation of a sentence.

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