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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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

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