Cross-modal semantic priming in schizophrenia

Simon Surguladze, Susan Rossell, Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, Anthony S. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Work on implicit memory in normal subjects has demonstrated the influence of stimulus modality on the retrieval of semantic information. The present study examined the effects of auditory and visual semantic priming on the recognition of visual words using a lexical decision task. Performance was studied in a group of 20 patients with DSM–IV schizophrenia and 26 normal volunteers of similar age and sex. There were two versions of the task: ipsimodal, in which the word or nonword visual target followed 400 ms after the onset of a visual word prime which may or may not be semantically related to the target; and cross-modal, in which the visual target followed 400 ms after the onset of an auditory word prime. Both groups showed significant priming in both modality conditions, although the schizophrenia patients exhibited significantly greater priming in the cross-modal condition. Priming effects in the ipsimodal condition did not differ substantially between patients and controls. The priming effects in the two conditions correlated with each other in the schizophrenia patients only. The results suggest that priming may occur through amodal semantic representations. In schizophrenia, there appears to be increased cross-modal connectivity (reduced modality modularity and informational encapsulation) between lexical representations that could result in impaired language, particularly speech, processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-892
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • semantic priming
  • modality
  • schizophrenia
  • dysmodularity


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