Impaired Language May Indicate Schizophrenia

Impaired language in bilingual individuals may be a novel indicator of schizophrenia, new research suggests.

A small study showed that participants diagnosed with schizophrenia who spoke two languages had more speech impairments in their second language (L2) than in their first language (L1), including using significantly more incomplete sentences and repeated words.

On the other hand, several verbal fluency markers were higher when conversing in the first language, signaling “a compensatory resource for communicative discourse in schizophrenia,” investigators note.

“We found that symptoms of schizophrenia were mostly represented in the second language,” lead author Daria Smirnova, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry at Samara State Medical University in Russia, told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Smirnova noted that because the participants were fluent in both languages, these findings were not due to “incompetence of second language.” Rather, it could be because of the way the brain of those with schizophrenia processes speech.

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