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Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Print version ISSN 2237-6089


TONELLI, Hélio Anderson. How semantic deficits in schizotypy help understand language and thought disorders in schizophrenia: a systematic and integrative review. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. [online]. 2014, vol.36, n.2, pp.75-88. ISSN 2237-6089.


Disorders of thought are psychopathological phenomena commonly present in schizophrenia and seem to result from deficits of semantic processing. Schizotypal personality traits consist of tendencies to think and behave that are qualitatively similar to schizophrenia, with greater vulnerability to such disorder. This study reviewed the literature about semantic processing deficits in samples of individuals with schizotypal traits and discussed the impact of current knowledge upon the comprehension of schizophrenic thought disorders. Studies about the cognitive performance of healthy individuals with schizotypal traits help understand the semantic deficits underlying psychotic thought disorders with the advantage of avoiding confounding factors usually found in samples of individuals with schizophrenia, such as the use of antipsychotics and hospitalizations.


A search for articles published in Portuguese or English within the last 10 years on the databases MEDLINE, Web of Science, PsycInfo, LILACS and Biological Abstracts was conducted, using the keywords semantic processing, schizotypy and schizotypal personality disorder.


The search retrieved 44 manuscripts, out of which 11 were firstly chosen. Seven manuscripts were additionally included after reading these papers.


The great majority of the included studies showed that schizotypal subjects might exhibit semantic processing deficits. They help clarify about the interfaces between cognitive, neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms underlying not only thought disorders, but also healthy human mind's creativity.

Keywords : Schizotypal personality disorder; semantics; schizophrenic language; concept formation; schizophrenia.

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