Behavioral and brain measures (N400) of semantic priming in patients with schizophrenia: Test–retest effect in a longitudinal study

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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether deficits in the behavioral and/or N400 semantic priming (SP) effect observed in patients with schizophrenia constitute a stable cognitive feature of the disorder or whether they may be influenced by the severity of each individual's symptomatology.


A 1-year test–retest study was conducted on 15 patients with schizophrenia and 10 healthy participants who performed an SP task. Both behavioral measures and event-related potentials measures of SP were recorded twice (test and retest sessions).


At test, patients exhibited a deficit in SP as was revealed by both the behavioral and the event-related potentials measures of the amplitude of the N400 component. At retest, behavioral SP remained impaired, whereas N400 SP was significantly improved.


These results provide evidence that SP impairments in schizophrenia as measured by N400 should not be considered as stable cognitive markers of the disorder. The behavioral and the N400 measures of SP indicated different levels of sensitivity to subtle cognitive and brain processes, which are subject to change over the clinical course of schizophrenic disorder.

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