Higher-order language dysfunctions as a possible neurolinguistic endophenotype for schizophrenia: Evidence from patients and their unaffected first degree relatives.

Research paper by Agnieszka A Pawełczyk, Emila E Łojek, Natalia N Żurner, Marta M Gawłowska-Sawosz, Tomasz T Pawełczyk

Indexed on: 10 Jun '18Published on: 10 Jun '18Published in: Psychiatry Research


The purpose of the study was to examine the presence of pragmatic dysfunctions in first episode (FE) subjects and their healthy first degree relatives as a potential endophenotype for schizophrenia. Thirty-four FE patients, 34 parents of the patients (REL) and 32 healthy controls (HC) took part in the study. Pragmatic language functions were evaluated with the Right Hemisphere Language Battery, attention and executive functions were controlled, as well as age and education level. The parents differed from HC but not from their FE offspring with regard to overall level of language and communication and the general knowledge component of language processing. The FE participants differed from HC in comprehension of inferred meaning, emotional prosody, discourse dimensions, overall level of language and communication, language processing with regard to general knowledge and communication competences. The FE participants differed from REL regarding discourse dimensions. Our findings suggest that pragmatic dysfunctions may act as vulnerability markers of schizophrenia; their assessment may help in the diagnosis of early stages of the illness and in understanding its pathophysiology. In future research the adoptive and biological parents of schizophrenia patients should be compared to elucidate which language failures reflect genetic vulnerability and which ones environmental factors. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.