The influence of idiomatic salience during the comprehension of ambiguous idioms by patients with schizophrenia


  • Iakimova Galina
  • Passerieux Christine
  • Denhière Guy
  • Laurent Jean-Paul
  • Vistoli Damien
  • Vilain Jeanne
  • Hardy-Bayle Marie-Christine

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This study investigates whether figurative comprehension in schizophrenia is influenced by the salience of idiomatic meaning, and whether it is affected by clinical and demographic factors and IQ. Twenty-seven schizophrenic patients and 25 healthy participants performed a semantic relatedness judgement task which required the comprehension of idioms with two plausible meanings (literal and figurative). The study also used literal expressions. The figurative meaning of the idioms was less salient (ILS), more salient (IFS), or equally salient (IES) compared to the literal meaning. The results showed "a salience effect" (i.e., all participants understood the salient meanings better than the less salient meanings). There was also a "figurativeness effect" (i.e., healthy individuals understood the figurative meaning of IES better than the literal meaning but not schizophrenic patients). In patients, their thought disorder influenced the figurative comprehension of IFS. The verbal IQ influenced the figurative comprehension of ILS. The thought disorder, the verbal IQ, and the educational level influenced the figurative comprehension of IES. The patients' clinically evaluated concretism was associated with a reduced figurative comprehension of IFS and IES evaluated at a cognitive level. The results are discussed in relation to cognitive mechanisms which underscore figurative comprehension in schizophrenia.

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