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Schizophrenia Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 484502, 7 pages
Review Article

Cognitive Control and Discourse Comprehension in Schizophrenia

1Department of Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Imaging Research Center, and Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Received 16 November 2011; Accepted 17 January 2012

Academic Editor: Margaret A. Niznikiewicz

Copyright © 2012 Megan A. Boudewyn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cognitive deficits across a wide range of domains have been consistently observed in schizophrenia and are linked to poor functional outcome (Green, 1996; Carter, 2006). Language abnormalities are among the most salient and include disorganized speech as well as deficits in comprehension. In this review, we aim to evaluate impairments of language processing in schizophrenia in relation to a domain-general control deficit. We first provide an overview of language comprehension in the healthy human brain, stressing the role of cognitive control processes, especially during discourse comprehension. We then discuss cognitive control deficits in schizophrenia, before turning to evidence suggesting that schizophrenia patients are particularly impaired at processing meaningful discourse as a result of deficits in control functions. We conclude that domain-general control mechanisms are impaired in schizophrenia and that during language comprehension this is most likely to result in difficulties during the processing of discourse-level context, which involves integrating and maintaining multiple levels of meaning. Finally, we predict that language comprehension in schizophrenia patients will be most impaired during discourse processing. We further suggest that discourse comprehension problems in schizophrenia might be mitigated when conflicting information is absent and strong relations amongst individual words are present in the discourse context.