Metaphor interpretation and use : a window into semantics in schizophrenia
The nature of putative semantic anomalies in schizophrenia is controversial. Metaphor interpretation and use provide a useful methodology with which to probe semantics since metaphors are critical in reasoning processes and in how conceptual knowledge is organized. The first study examined free speech for figurative language. The second study explored whether emotional versus non-emotional metaphorical language interpretation elicits differences in the tendencies to produce idiosyncratic (bizarre) or literal interpretations or use of other metaphors to describe the meaning of a metaphor. The third study examined the interpretation of time metaphors. We expected the time perspective in ambiguous sentences to be differentially influenced by previously presented unambiguous sentences of a specific perspective, either events moving relative to a stationary observer (moving-time) or an observer moving relative to a stationary event (moving-ego). First, we found that patients used a similar amount of figurative language as control participants. Second, we did not find any difference between the groups in terms of idiosyncratic interpretations, although patients did interpret more metaphors literally and controls utilized more figurative language. Third, we did not find evidence of a difference between the groups in terms of time perspectives influencing ambiguous target sentences differentially. As operationalized here, the interpretation and use of metaphors is similar in patients with schizophrenia to that of healthy control participants. To the extent that metaphors recruit semantic processes this area of cognition is generally intact in schizophrenia.
CitationSchizophrenia Research 133(2011) s. 205-211
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