The Genetic Basis of Thought Disorder and Language and Communication Disturbances in Schizophrenia

Levy DL, Coleman MJ, Sung H, Ji F, Matthysse S, Mendell NR, Titone D

J Neurolinguistics 2010 May;23(3):176

PMID: 20161689


Thought disorder as well as language and communication disturbances are associated with schizophrenia and are over-represented in clinically unaffected relatives of schizophrenics. All three kinds of dysfunction involve some element of deviant verbalizations, most notably, semantic anomalies. Of particular importance, thought disorder characterized primarily by deviant verbalizations has a higher recurrence in relatives of schizophrenic patients than schizophrenia itself. These findings suggest that deviant verbalizations may be more penetrant expressions of schizophrenia susceptibility genes than schizophrenia. This paper reviews the evidence documenting the presence of thought, language and communication disorders in schizophrenic patients and in their first-degree relatives. This familial aggregation potentially implicates genetic factors in the etiology of thought disorder, language anomalies, and communication disturbances in schizophrenia families. We also present two examples of ways in which thought, language and communication disorders can enrich genetic studies, including those involving schizophrenia.