Hemispheric Processing of Idioms in Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder

N. Mashal, R Saban-Bezalel, S Hess, D Dolfin, H Hermesh

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Schizophrenia (SZ) and autism (ASD) have been historically considered as a related diagnostic category. Studies point to difficulties in comprehension of figurative language and a tendency to interpret it in a literal manner in both populations.To examine idiom comprehension and pattern of hemispheric processing of idioms in SZ as compared to ASD.Nineteen adults diagnosed with SZ, 24 adults diagnosed with ASD, and 22 typically developing (TD) adults participated in the study. The SZ and the ASD groups were matched by gender and verbal abilities. Participants performed a lexical decision task to either literally or idiomatically related target words presented to either the left or the right visual field using the divided visual field paradigm.First, although both SZ and ASD groups performed worse than TD, they demonstrated relatively unimpaired comprehension of idiomatic expressions. No significant difference in idiom comprehension was found between the SZ and the ASD groups. Second, adults with SZ demonstrated a similar pattern of hemispheric lateralization (i.e. right lateralization) as TD participants during the processing of the literal interpretations of idioms. In contrast to SZ and TD participants, ASD participants demonstrated a bilateral pattern of hemispheric processing.Our findings suggest that brain lateralization is intact in adults with SZ but atypical in adults with ASD. The atypical hemispheric processing in addition to relatively unimpaired understanding of figurative language can point to a compensation mechanism in ASD. Thus, the current findings point to a different brain mechanism in each clinical group.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2015
EventThe 15th conference of the Israeli Psychiatric Association - Tel-Aviv, Israel
Duration: 26 May 201528 May 2015


ConferenceThe 15th conference of the Israeli Psychiatric Association


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