alexa Action verb understanding in first-episode schizophrenia: is there evidence for a simulation deficit?


Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology & Mental Health

Author(s): Ferri F, Salone A, Ebisch SJ, De Berardis D, Romani GL,

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Abstract Schizophrenia is often associated with deficits in the domain of language, which are thought to be closely related to deficits in the structure of semantic knowledge. The main aim of the present study was to behaviorally investigate whether semantic impairments in schizophrenia are present also at the very basic level of action verb processing, in particular at the level of motor simulation. We used a go-no go paradigm both for a semantic decision task (with either an early, EGD, or a delayed go-signal delivery, DGD) and for a lexical decision task (control task). Only the first task requires motor simulation to be solved. We found that first-episode schizophrenia (FES) patients, like healthy control (HC) participants, use motor simulation as a basic strategy to semantically judge action verbs. In the EGD condition, both motor simulation and action verb understanding seem to be preserved in FES. However, differently from HC participants, FES patients kept on using the simulation strategy also with the DGD condition, whereas, simultaneously, task performance during this condition appeared to be less efficient and sensitive. Voxel-based morphometry analysis suggested that this altered performance in FES patients could be related to structural brain abnormalities in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We propose that a prolonged motor simulation in FES may serve as a compensatory strategy for impairments in the selection of action representation and/or for memory deficits disclosed by the DGD condition during the semantic decision task investigated in the present study. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This article was published in Neuropsychologia and referenced in Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology & Mental Health

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