Role for positive schizotypy and hallucination proneness in semantic processing

Saskia de Leede-Smith, Steven Roodenrys, Lauren Horsley, Shannen Matrini, Erin Mison, Emma Barkus

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Semantic processing underpins the organization of verbal information for both storage and retrieval. Deficits in semantic processing are associated with both the risk for and symptoms presented in schizophrenia. However, studies are mixed and could reflect the confounding effects of medication and symptom heterogeneity. Therefore, we considered whether two risk phenotypes, positive schizotypy and hallucinatory predisposition, present in the general population were associated with differential responding profiles for a semantic processing task. One hundred and eighty-three participants completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire, Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale, National Adult Reading Test, a handedness measure, and a computerized semantic relatedness judgment task. Pairs of words were related through their dominant or subordinate meanings, or unrelated. Participants were divided into four groups using a mean split on cognitive-perceptual (positive) schizotypy and hallucination proneness. Significant differences between groups were found for reaction time on the semantic relatedness task, with the high cognitive-perceptual schizotypy groups responding significantly slower to all word pairs compared to their low scoring counterparts. There was some evidence that high hallucination proneness was associated with significantly faster reaction times which may reflect disinhibitive processes, however additional support is required. The results suggest that these two components of psychosis risk are associated with different patterns of responding to semantic processing. More diffuse activation of semantic information appeared to be associated with positive schizotypy, while those predisposed to hallucinations appeared to respond quicker. These results have significant implications in the re-conceptualization of hallucination proneness as distinct from positive schizotypy. Additional research is required to investigate the association between psychotic-like experiences separate from personality variables such as positive schizotypy and semantic processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number542002
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


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