Semantic dysfunction in women with schizotypal personality disorder

Niznikiewicz MA, Shenton ME, Voglmaier M, Nestor PG, Dickey CC, Frumin M, Seidman LJ, Allen CG, McCarley RW

Am J Psychiatry 2002 Oct;159(10):1767-74

PMID: 12359685


OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether early or late processes in semantic networks were abnormal in women with a diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder. The N400 component of the EEG event-related potentials was used as a probe of semantic processes.

METHOD: Word pairs were presented with short and long stimulus-onset asynchronies to investigate, respectively, early and late semantic processes in 16 women with schizotypal personality disorder and 15 normal female comparison subjects. Event-related potentials were recorded in response to the last words in a pair.

RESULTS: With the short stimulus-onset asynchrony, the N400 amplitude was less negative in the schizotypal personality disorder group than in the normal comparison group. No group differences were found with the long stimulus-onset asynchrony.

CONCLUSIONS: The finding of a less negative than normal N400 amplitude with the short stimulus-onset asynchrony in women with schizotypal personality disorder supports the hypothesis that persons with this disorder evince an overactivation of semantic networks. The absence of group differences with the long stimulus-onset asynchrony, which is primarily sensitive to processes involved in context integration, suggests that in this group of schizotypal personality disorder subjects, additional demands on working memory may be necessary to bring out the semantic dysfunction.