Language disturbances in schizophrenia: the relation with antipsychotic medication

J. N. de Boer*, A. E. Voppel, S. G. Brederoo, F. N.K. Wijnen, I. E.C. Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Language disturbances are key aberrations in schizophrenia. Little is known about the influence of antipsychotic medication on these symptoms. Using computational language methods, this study evaluated the impact of high versus low dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) occupancy antipsychotics on language disturbances in 41 patients with schizophrenia, relative to 40 healthy controls. Patients with high versus low D2R occupancy antipsychotics differed by total number of words and type-token ratio, suggesting medication effects. Both patient groups differed from the healthy controls on percentage of time speaking and clauses per utterance, suggesting illness effects. Overall, more severe negative language disturbances (i.e. slower articulation rate, increased pausing, and shorter utterances) were seen in the patients that used high D2R occupancy antipsychotics, while less prominent disturbances were seen in low D2R occupancy patients. Language analyses successfully predicted drug type (sensitivity = 80.0%, specificity = 76.5%). Several language disturbances were more related to drug type and dose, than to other psychotic symptoms, suggesting that language disturbances may be aggravated by high D2R antipsychotics. This negative impact of high D2R occupancy drugs may have clinical implications, as impaired language production predicts functional outcome and degrades the quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages9
Journalnpj Schizophrenia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2020


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