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Understanding Minds and Understanding Communicated Meanings in Schizophrenia

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The work reported in this paper investigated the putative functional dependence of pragmatic language skills on general mind-reading capacity by testing theory-of-mind abilities and understanding of non-literal speech in patients with schizophrenia and in healthy controls. Patients showed difficulties with inferring mental states on a false-belief picture-sequencing task and with understanding metaphors and irony on a story-comprehension task. These difficulties were independent of low verbal IQ and a more generalised problem inhibiting prepotent information. Understanding of metaphors and understanding of irony made significant and independent contributions to discriminating patients from controls, suggesting that metaphor and irony make distinct pragmatic demands.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, 2: Philosophy Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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