Dynamics of impaired humour processing in schizophrenia - An EEG effective connectivity study.


Psychophysiology Laboratory, Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Electronic address: [Email]


Specific language and communication abilities, such as humour comprehension, are commonly impaired in schizophrenia. The present study investigates the dynamics of the humour-related neural network underlying this deficit. Specifically, we focused on the abnormalities of information flow in schizophrenia within the fronto-temporo-parietal circuit. We estimated the direction and strength of cortical information flow in the time course of humour processing by the EEG Directed Transfer Function. The study included 40 schizophrenia outpatients and 40 healthy controls (age-sex-education matched) assessed with an EEG punchline-based humour comprehension task (written and cartoon jokes). The linear mixed models procedure was used to test group effects across three processes: 1. incongruity detection, 2. incongruity resolution and elaboration, 3. complete humour processing. Conjunction maps for both types of jokes were created to investigate fundamental between-group differences, beyond the context of modality. Clinical subjects indicated a lower level of understanding of the funny punchlines, indicated absurd punchlines as more understandable and gave higher funniness ratings to both absurd and neutral punchlines. The EEG effective connectivity results revealed that humour processing in schizophrenia engages alternative circuits, exhibiting a pronounced abnormal leftward shifted lateralization related to diminished activity of the right hemisphere in fronto-temporo-parietal regions. In conclusion, the present paper presents the dynamics of cortical propagation of information in the humour-related circuit as a neural substrate of humour impairment in schizophrenia.


Directed transfer function,Effective connectivity,Electroencephalography,Humour,Schizophrenia,