Serial and semantic encoding of lists of words in schizophrenia patients with visual hallucinations

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Previous research has suggested that visual hallucinations in schizophrenia are associated with abnormal salience of visual mental images. Since visual imagery is used as a mnemonic strategy to learn lists of words, increased visual imagery might impede the other commonly used strategies of serial and semantic encoding. We had previously published data on the serial and semantic strategies implemented by patients when learning lists of concrete words with different levels of semantic organisation (Brebion et al., 2004). In this paper we present a re-analysis of these data, aiming at investigating the associations between learning strategies and visual hallucinations. Results show that the patients with visual hallucinations presented less serial clustering in the non-organisable list than the other patients. In the semantically organisable list with typical instances, they presented both less serial and less semantic clustering than the other patients. Thus, patients with visual hallucinations demonstrate reduced use of serial and semantic encoding in the lists made up of fairly familiar concrete words, which enable the formation of mental images. Although these results are preliminary, we propose that this different processing of the lists stems from the abnormal salience of the mental images such patients experience from the word stimuli. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5 - 10
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2011


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