Cognitive Dysfunction Relating to Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is often a chronic relapsing psychotic disorder that disrupts normal thought, speech, and behavior. It is a cluster of severe prolonged mental disturbances that “...is by far the most chronic and disabling of the major mental disorders. This disease may be one disorder, or it may be many disorders, with different causes” (Andreasen & Schutlz, 1999). It is a disease that makes it difficult for a person to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences. In addition, “it enables the person to think logically, to have normal emotional responses to others, and to behave normally in social situations” (Andreasen, ...view middle of the document...
However, usually the illness develops slowly over months or even years. At first, the symptoms may not be noticed or may be confused with those of other conditions. “Schizophrenia is characterized by a constellation of distinctive and predictable symptoms. The symptoms that are generally associated with the disease are called positive “psychotic” symptoms, which denote the presence of grossly abnormal behavior. These abnormal behaviors include thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations” (Frith, 1995).
The positive symptoms of schizophrenia are among its most striking features and they are the most difficult to understand. Hearing voices talking to you, experiencing alien thoughts being inserted into your mind, and believing that alien forces are controlling your most trivial actions are as well outside the normal range of experience. In addition, such experiences are very rarely reported by neurological patients. In consequence, neuropsychological tests relevant to the cognitive processes underlying these symptoms have not yet been developed (Andreasen, 1999).
Delusions are common among individuals with schizophrenia. These are false beliefs that appear obviously untrue to other people. An affected person “begins to believe that people are reading their minds or plotting against them, that others are secretly monitoring and threatening them, or that they can control their people’s thoughts” (Andreasen, 1999). Hallucinations can be heard, seen, or even felt; most often they take the form of voices heard only by the afflicted person. Among the most prevalent symptoms associated with schizophrenia are auditory hallucinations, which are not simply words. “The patient hears people talking to him or about him. The experience has all the qualities of real communication. The voices seems to emanate from someone with intentions and desires who is using words to influence the behavior and beliefs of the patients. Such voices may describe the person’s actions, warn him of danger or even tell him what to do” (Arango et al., 1999).
One long-lasting explanation of this symptom has been that it is the patient’s own inner speech or thought that is experienced as a voice...during auditory hallucinations, muscle activity in tongue and throat can sometimes be detected and occasionally subvocal speech is sufficiently loud to be picked up by a microphone and made audible. In past cases, the contents of the subvocal speech correspond with what the patient reports the voice to be saying...inner speech play a major part in certain aspects of working memory...if hallucinations involve inner speech then their presence should interfere with the performance of working memory tasks...the inner speech required for a verbal working memory task is associated with a observed greater activity in Broca’s area (Joseph, 1999).
The combination of these distinct symptoms usually contributes to the...