Language deficits in schizophrenia and autism as related oscillatory connectomopathies: An evolutionary account

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Abstract

Schizophrenia (SZ) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterised by marked language deficits, but it is not clear how these arise from gene mutations associated with the disorders. Our goal is to narrow the gap between SZ and ASD and, ultimately, give support to the view that they represent abnormal (but related) ontogenetic itineraries for the human faculty of language. We will focus on the distinctive oscillatory profiles of the SZ and ASD brains, in turn using these insights to refine our understanding of how the brain implements linguistic computations by exploring a novel model of linguistic feature-set composition. We will argue that brain rhythms constitute the best route to interpreting language deficits in both conditions and mapping them to neural dysfunction and risk alleles of the genes. Importantly, candidate genes for SZ and ASD are overrepresented among the gene sets believed to be important for language evolution. This translational effort may help develop an understanding of the aetiology of SZ and ASD and their high prevalence among modern populations.

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