Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2019 Feb;17(1):64-73. 10.9758/cpn.2019.17.1.64.

Alteration of Semantic Networks during Swear Words Processing in Schizophrenia

  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Neuroscience and Development, Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, KAIST, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 2Center of Optics for Health Science, KAIST Institute, KAIST, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 4Department of Radiology, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 5Research Institute of Clinical Medicine of Chonbuk National University-Biomedical Research Institute of Chonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 6Department of Computer Science and Engineering & Center for Advanced Image and Information Technology, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 7Department of Biomedical Engineering, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 8Division of Computer Science and Engineering, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea.


Positive symptoms, such as delusion and hallucination, commonly include negative emotional content in schizophrenia. We investigated the neural basis implicated during the processing of strong negative emotional words in patients with schizophrenia.
In our study, 35 patients with schizophrenia and 19 healthy controls were recruited, and the participants were asked to passively view the words that contained swearing and neutral content during functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Patients with schizophrenia, compared to healthy controls, showed hypoactivation to the swear and neutral words stimuli in the left inferior frontal gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and left angular/supramarginal gyrus. More specifically, patients with remitted schizophrenia were found to have greater activation to the stimuli in the left middle/inferior frontal gyrus than patients with active schizophrenia. Furthermore, in the analysis of regions of interests, the left inferior and middle frontal gyrus activity was related to the severity of positive symptoms, including delusion and suspiciousness.
Our results suggest that patients with schizophrenia have difficulty in semantic processing and inhibitory control of swear words, and these abnormalities may be connected with the severity of positive symptoms.


Schizophrenia; Semantic network; Swear words; Inferior frontal gyrus; Positive symptom; Middle frontal gyrus

MeSH Terms

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Prefrontal Cortex
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