Neural Basis of Speech-Gesture Mismatch Detection in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

Schizophr Bull. 2021 Oct 21;47(6):1761-1771. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbab059.


Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) exhibit an aberrant perception and comprehension of abstract speech-gesture combinations associated with dysfunctional activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Recently, a significant deficit of speech-gesture mismatch detection was identified in SSD, but the underlying neural mechanisms have not yet been examined. A novel mismatch-detection fMRI paradigm was implemented manipulating speech-gesture abstractness (abstract/concrete) and relatedness (related/unrelated). During fMRI data acquisition, 42 SSD patients (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or other non-organic psychotic disorder [ICD-10: F20, F25, F28; DSM-IV: 295.X]) and 36 healthy controls were presented with short video clips of an actor reciting abstract or concrete sentences accompanied by either a semantically related or unrelated gesture. Participants indicated via button press whether they perceived each gesture as matching the speech content or not. Speech-gesture mismatch detection performance was significantly impaired in patients compared to controls. fMRI data analysis revealed that patients showed lower activation in bilateral frontal areas, including the IFG for all abstract > concrete speech-gesture pairs. In addition, they exhibited reduced engagement of the right supplementary motor area (SMA) and bilateral anterior cingulate cortices (ACC) for unrelated > related stimuli. We provide first evidence that impaired speech-gesture mismatch detection in SSD could be the result of dysfunctional activation of the SMA and ACC. Failure to activate the left IFG disrupts the integration of abstract speech-gesture combinations in particular. Future investigations should focus on brain stimulation of the SMA, ACC, and the IFG to improve communication and social functioning in SSD.

Keywords: abstractness; anterior cingulate cortex; inferior frontal gyrus; metaphoric gestures; relatedness; supplementary motor area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gestures*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Metaphor*
  • Motor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult