Objective: To explore linguistic abilities in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, the aims of this study were to: i) investigate microlinguistic (lexicon, morphology, syntax) and macrolinguistic (discourse coherence, pragmatics) dimensions of speech production and ii) evaluate syntactic comprehension skills in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Method: Linguistic performance of 30 Italian-speaking patients with schizophrenia, 30 participants with bipolar disorder and 30 healthy controls comparable for age and educational level has been assessed using a story-telling task and a computer-based test of syntactic comprehension. Results: In narrative production, compared with healthy participants, those with schizophrenia had slight problems in speech rate and deficits at both local and global discourse coherence, whereas patients with bipolar disorder showed reduced mean length of utterance. As regards syntactic comprehension, both groups of patients collected more grammatical errors than controls, but they differed with regard to the number and kind of grammatical construction they missed. Conclusion: Linguistic deficits have been detected in both groups of patients, being, however, more severe and generalized in schizophrenia than in bipolar disorder. Such results help us in improving our understanding of the potential psychopathological overlapping between these disorders.
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