ERPs of metaphoric, literal, and incongruous semantic processing in schizophrenia

Author(s): Iakimova G, Passerieux C, Laurent JP, Hardy‐Bayle MC


The ability of schizophrenia patients to access metaphorical meaning was studied on the basis of psycholinguistic models of metaphor processing. ERPs were recorded from 20 schizophrenic and 20 control participants who were asked to read metaphorical, literal, and incongruous sentences and to judge their meaningfulness. In all participants, incongruous endings to sentences evoked the most negative N400 amplitude, whereas literal endings evoked more negative N400 amplitude than metaphorical ones, consistent with the direct model of metaphor processing. Although the patients had ERPs patterns that were similar to controls, they exhibited a more negative N400 amplitude for all sentences, LPC amplitude reduction, and latency delay in both components. The results suggest that schizophrenics have no specific anomalies in accessing the meaning of metaphors but are less efficient in integrating the semantic context of all sentences—both figurative and literal.

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