Language in Schizophrenia and Aphasia: The Relationship with Non-verbal Cognition and Thought Disorder

Beth Little, Vitor Zimmerer, Rosemary Varley, Maggie Douglas, Helen Spencer, Derya Cokal, Felicity Deamer, Douglas Turkington, Nicol Ferrier, Wolfram Hinzen, Stuart Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the relationship between language abnormalities and broader cognitive impairment and thought disorder by examining language and cognition in schizophrenia and aphasia (a primary language disorder).

Methods: Cognitive and linguistic profiles were measured with a battery of standardised tests, and compared in a clinical population of n = 50 (n = 30 with schizophrenia and n = 20 with aphasia) and n = 61 non-clinical comparisons (n = 45 healthy controls and n = 16 non-affected first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia).

Results: Both clinical groups showed linguistic deficits. Verbal impairment was more severe in participants with aphasia, whereas non-verbal performance was more affected in participants with schizophrenia. In schizophrenia, but not in aphasia, verbal and non-verbal performance were associated. Formal thought disorder was associated with impairment in executive function and in grammatical, but not naming, tasks.

Conclusion: While patients with schizophrenia and aphasia showed language impairments, the nature and cognitive basis of these impairments may be different; language performance disassociates from broader cognitive functioning in aphasia but may be an intrinsic expression of a broader cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. Thought disorder may represent a core malfunction of grammatical processing. Results suggests that communicative ability may be a valid target in cognitive remediation strategies in schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-405
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date25 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019


  • Schizophrenia
  • aphasia
  • cognition
  • language
  • thought disorder


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