New study shows people react differently when speaking to someone with a mental illness

by Anne Craig

New research by graduate student Michael Best (Psychology) and Christopher Bowie (Psychology) has shown that the brain processes communication from a person with schizophrenia differently when the listener is aware of speaker's illness.

In an effort to better understand the and social exclusion often associated with , Mr. Best and Professor Bowie examined the of people listening to sentences that included abnormalities commonly associated with schizophrenia.

"Typically, when we listen to someone who uses a word that does not seem consistent with the context, such as a word that is out of place or a completely made up word, we have a very quick increase in brain activity as we try to make sense of what the person means to say," says Mr. Best. "If someone was told that the speaker had schizophrenia, they did not show the same tendency for increased brain activity when a sentence was confusing. It might mean that they expected their behaviour to be unusual."

Individuals with schizophrenia often experience difficulty interacting with other people, in part because of communication abnormalities that are common in the disorder. The study by Mr. Best and Dr. Bowie was the first study to show there is a difference in how the brain reacts to listening to speech by people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"We face some big issues in trying to reduce social exclusion faced by those with schizophrenia," says Dr. Bowie. "Although anti-stigma campaigns work well for those with other mental illnesses, we see that after these efforts people report more for those with but a tendency to want even more distance. These results are our first in a series of steps that we hope will help us better understand the mechanisms that underlie stigma and ."

The study was recently published in Schizophrenia Research.

More information: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23800615

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genetic risk for schizophrenia is connected to reduced IQ

May 16, 2013

The relationship between the heritable risk for schizophrenia and low intelligence (IQ) has not been clear. Schizophrenia is commonly associated with cognitive impairments that may cause functional disability. There are clues ...

Recommended for you

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

3 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

5 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

7 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

How do we make moral judgements?

8 hours ago

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, Université de Montréal and IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.