The neural correlates of communicative processes in patients with schizophrenia and the effects of a specific speech-gesture intervention

Funding: Von Behring-Röntgen-Stiftung

Schizophrenia is one of the most frequent mental with symptoms like hallucinations and ego-disturbances, affecting approximately 1% of the population. In many cases these so-called positive symptoms can be successfully treated by medication. Moreover there are severe thought and language impairments manifesting in communicative dysfunctions and therefore in social isolation that cannot be treated medically. One of the underlying communicative dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia is the inability to integrate gestural information: Patients tend to misinterpret information from two modalities (auditory and visually). Several previous studies have shown reduced skills especially in interpreting gesture accompanying figurative speech.

With the G+ project we have established a standardised eight-hour training programme, training gesture skills. We investigate the neural plasticity effects of the training on social-cognitive abilities in patients with schizophrenia. Throughout the programme, we use perceptual tasks as well as gesture production to improve the patient’s integration skills. Furthermore, we focus on cognitive aspects of gesture to facilitate social-cognitive functioning in everyday life. We also offer information about gesture and its benefits for communication. With the help of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and behavioral measures, we seek to investigate the implications for future therapy, in order to improve treatment methods for patients with schizophrenia.

Who’s working on G+?

Principal investigator: Benjamin Straube

Post-Doc: Yifei He

PhD student: Lydia Riedl

Medical students: Momoko Choudhury, Anne Sütterlin,

Allumni: Dr.med. Annika Nonnemann, Dr.rer.nat Philipp Berger, Dr.rer.nat Florian Bitsch

Related publications:

Riedl, L., Nagels, A., Sammer, G., Choudhury, M., Nonnenmann, A., Sütterlin, A., … Straube, B. (2021, September 6). A Novel Multimodal Speech-Gesture Training and Its Impact on Quality of Life and Neural Processing in Patients With Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder. A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/n2h9c

Choudhury, M., Steines, M., Nagels, A., Riedl, L., Kircher, T., & Straube, B. (2021). Neural Basis of Speech-Gesture Mismatch Detection in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders. Schizophrenia Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbab059

Riedl, L., Nagels, A., Sammer, G., & Straube, B. (2020). A multimodal speech-gesture training intervention for patients with schizophrenia and its neural underpinnings – the study protocol of a randomized controlled pilot trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 110. https://doi.org/10.3389/FPSYT.2020.00110

He, Y., Nagels, A., Schlesewsky, M., Straube, B., 2018. The Role of Gamma Oscillations During Integration of Metaphoric Gestures and Abstract Speech. Front. Psychol. 9, 1–11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01348

He, Y., Steines, M., Sommer, J., Gebhardt, H., Nagels, A., Sammer, G., Kircher, T., Straube, B., 2018. Spatial – temporal dynamics of gesture – speech integration : a simultaneous EEG-fMRI study. Brain Struct. Funct. 0, 0. doi:10.1007/s00429-018-1674-5

He, Y., Steines, M., Sammer, G., Nagels, A., Kircher, T., Straube, B., 2018. Action-Related Speech Modulates Beta Oscillations During Observation of Tool-Use Gestures. Brain Topogr. 31, 838–847. doi:10.1007/s10548-018-0641-z

He, Y., Gebhardt, H., Steines, M., Sammer, G., Kircher, T., Nagels, A., Straube, B., 2015. The EEG and fMRI signatures of neural integration: An investigation of meaningful gestures and corresponding speech. Neuropsychologia 72, 27–42. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.04.018

Straube, B., Green, A., Sass, K., Kirner-Veselinovic, A., Kircher, T., 2013. Neural integration of speech and gesture in schizophrenia: Evidence for differential processing of metaphoric gestures. Hum. Brain Mapp. 34, 1696–1712.

Straube, B., Green, A., Sass, K., Kircher, T., 2014. Superior Temporal Sulcus Disconnectivity During Processing of Metaphoric Gestures in Schizophrenia. Schizophr. Bull. 40, 936–944. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbt110