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Stress Reactivity of Emotional and Verbal Speech Content in Schizophrenia

Dombrowski, Margaret PhD*; McCleery, Amanda PhD*; Gregory, Stanford W. Jr PhD; Docherty, Nancy M. PhD*

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: August 2014 - Volume 202 - Issue 8 - p 608–612
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000169
Original Articles

Abstract: Speech fundamental frequencies (SFFs) are nonverbal sound frequencies that convey emotion in speech. The degree of SFF long-term averaged spectra (LTAS) convergence between conversants reflects aspects of conversant-reported quality of the interaction (e.g., emotional synchrony). This study investigated whether SFF LTAS convergence between inpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n = 20) and an interviewer was associated with severity of illness (SOI), formal speech disturbance (FSD), and stress reactivity of FSD. Participants provided speech samples describing stressful and nonstressful life experiences. In the stress condition, SFF LTAS was negatively correlated with SOI and FSD. Moreover, patients exhibiting stress reactivity of FSD also evidenced stress reactivity of SFF LTAS. These findings suggest that the emotional and verbal contents of speech are disrupted by stress in schizophrenia, and SOI is associated with FSD and reduced emotional communication during stressful conditions. The interaction between stress reactivity of FSD and SFF LTAS supports the construct validity of a reactivity dimension in schizophrenia.

Departments of *Psychology and †Sociology, Kent State University, Kent, OH.

Margaret Dombrowski, PhD, is now with the Department of Psychology, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster, PA. Amanda McCleery, PhD, is now with the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.

Send reprint requests to Amanda McCleery, PhD, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, 300 Medical Plaza, Room 2213, Los Angeles, CA 90095. E-mail: amccleery@mednet.ucla.edu.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins