Title page for ETD etd-06102012-133327

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Minor, Kyle S
URN etd-06102012-133327
Title The Role of Atypical Semantic Activation in Schizotypy: Implications For Odd Speech and Creativity
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cohen, Alex S Committee Chair
Copeland, Amy L Committee Member
Elliott, Emily M Committee Member
Gouvier, William D Committee Member
Lim, Younghee Committee Member
  • speech
  • semantic memory
  • creativity
  • language
  • schizotypy
  • schizophrenia
Date of Defense 2011-05-18
Availability unrestricted
Individuals with schizophrenia tend to demonstrate patterns of atypical semantic activation, which are characterized by increased activation of weakly associated words within the semantic network. Although atypical semantic activation is associated with formal thought disorder, tangential speech, and poor long-term functioning in schizophrenia, very little is known about this variable in individuals with schizotypy, or the 10% of the population who demonstrate personality traits presumed to reflect genetic liability to schizophrenia. In this project, we employed highly sensitive laboratory procedures to test whether individuals with schizotypy (n = 45) display increased atypical semantic activation compared to a non-schizotypy group (n = 26). We also examined odd speech across four conditions that varied according to valence (pleasant, unpleasant) and arousal (high, low), investigated creativity, and analyzed the role of atypical semantic activation in odd speech and creativity in schizotypy. In this study, we observed that the schizotypy group demonstrated significantly increased atypical semantic activation, on the order of a large effect size, and performed significantly better on creativity tasks compared to the non-schizotypy group. Odd speech analyses were less conclusive. Overall, the schizotypy group demonstrated a slight increase, on the order of a small effect size, compared to the non-schizotypy group. This increase appeared to be the most robust in high arousal speech conditions. We did not find conclusive evidence for our hypotheses that atypical semantic activation influences odd speech or creativity. Potential implications of this study and future directions for examining atypical semantic activation, odd speech, and creativity across the schizophrenia-spectrum are also discussed.
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