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Keywords:

  • endophenotype;
  • cerebral laterality;
  • dichotic listening

Abstract

Dichotic listening (DL) has been used as a tool to investigate possible left cerebral dysfunction in schizophrenia. However, the wide range of DL tests (e.g., words, emotions, sentences) as well as patient groups (“heterogeneity”) has introduced several confounders. Assessing relatives of patients with schizophrenia may overcome some of these problems, and may be more useful in determining if loss of functional cerebral laterality in schizophrenia is a state or a trait phenomenon. The fused consonant-vowel DL test was administered to 114 subjects: 20 individuals with familial schizophrenia, 42 of their healthy relatives, and 52 healthy volunteers. We did this to investigate whether the normal language processing asymmetry—a right ear advantage (REA)—is present, and whether it could serve as a marker for genetic liability. General performance accuracy level was lower in schizophrenia patients and their relatives but the expected REA was present in all groups. Adjusting for age, accuracy, and obligate status made no difference. In conclusion, familial schizophrenic patients and their relatives have normal REA and hearing laterality on the fused DL test. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.