Evidence of Semantic Processing Abnormalities in Schizotypy Using an Indirect Semantic Priming Task

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Semantic processing abnormalities are predicted to underlie thought disorder in schizophrenia. This study investigated semantic processing in relation to cognitive disorganization in schizotypy, a thought disorder analog. Schizotypy was measured in 53 healthy university students using the Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences questionnaire. All participants completed 2 semantic priming tasks; direct and indirect (referring to the degree of association between word pair stimuli) and within each task, half of the stimuli were presented with a short time interval between prime and target presentation and half with a long time interval. Correlational analyses suggested that increasing cognitive disorganization was significantly associated with greater priming on the indirect tasks only. Separate analyses of the male and female data also revealed that men scoring highly on cognitive disorganization exhibited more indirect priming and less direct priming, whereas the female schizotypy data showed no significant correlations with either priming task. These findings are indicative of abnormal indirect priming in schizotypy, which was more pronounced in the male participant group. The findings of the present study further support the proposal that semantic processing is abnormal in schizophrenia, without the presence of potentially confounding factors that have limited research with clinical populations.

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