The Cognitive Neuroscience of Thought Disorder in Schizophrenia

Peter Bachman and Tyrone D. Cannon

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Thought Disorder in Schizophrenia

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



The term thought disorder most commonly refers to a constellation of impairments in communication manifested by individuals suffering from schizophrenia. Although diverse in nature, these symptoms are thought to result from the influence of one or a small number of cognitive abnormalities that affect how individuals with psychotic disorders process information. We discuss the phenomenology of thought disorder and the candidate cognitive mechanisms that may play a role in its expression. Among these, impaired executive functioning—possibly through its interaction with semantic memory—shows the greatest promise in accounting for the phenomena that comprise thought disorder. Additionally, we review a prominent model of executive control of ongoing behavior and discuss links to psychosis symptoms. We then outline a set of neurophysiological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia, or with latent genetic risk for developing the disorder, and consider how these factors may contribute to the expression of disordered thinking.

Keywords: formal thought disorder; psychosis; working memory; speech production; context; endophenotype; discourse coherence; prefrontal; temporal

Article.  17018 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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