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In Schizophrenia bulletin ; h5-index 79.0

BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS : Any form of coherent discourse depends on saying different things about the same entities at different times. Such recurrent references to the same entity need to predictably happen within certain temporal windows. We hypothesized that a failure of control over reference in speakers with schizophrenia (Sz) would become manifest through dynamic temporal measures.

STUDY DESIGN : Conversational speech with a mean of 909.2 words (SD: 178.4) from 20 Chilean Spanish speakers with chronic Sz, 20 speakers at clinical high risk (CHR), and 20 controls were collected. Using directed speech graphs with referential noun phrases (NPs) as nodes, we studied deviances in the topology and temporal distribution of such NPs and of the entities they denote over narrative time.

STUDY RESULTS : The Sz group had a larger density of NPs (number of NPs divided by total words) relative to both controls and CHR. This related to topological measures of distance between recurrent entities, which revealed that the Sz group produced more recurrences, as well as greater topological distances between them, relative to controls. A logistic regression using five topological measures showed that Sz and controls can be distinguished with 84.2% accuracy.

CONCLUSIONS : This pattern indicates a widening of the temporal window in which entities are maintained in discourse and co-referenced in it. It substantiates and extends earlier evidence for deficits in the cognitive control over linguistic reference in psychotic discourse and informs both neurocognitive models of language in Sz and machine learning-based linguistic classifiers of psychotic speech.

Palominos Claudio, Figueroa-Barra Alicia, Hinzen Wolfram


narrative, reference, speech graphs, topological distances