Impaired multisensory processing in schizophrenia: Deficits in the visual enhancement of speech comprehension under noisy environmental conditions

Lars A. Ross, Dave Saint-Amour, Victoria M. Leavitt, Sophie Molholm, Daniel C. Javitt, John J. Foxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

116 Scopus citations


Background: Viewing a speaker's articulatory movements substantially improves a listener's ability to understand spoken words, especially under noisy environmental conditions. In this study we investigated the ability of patients with schizophrenia to integrate visual and auditory speech. Our objective was to determine to what extent they experience benefit from visual articulation and to detail under what listening conditions they might show the greatest impairments. Methods: We assessed the ability to recognize auditory and audiovisual speech in different levels of noise in 18 patients with schizophrenia and compared their performance with that of 18 healthy volunteers. We used a large set of monosyllabic words as our stimuli in order to more closely approximate performance in everyday situations. Results: Patients with schizophrenia showed deficits in their ability to derive benefit from visual articulatory motion. This impairment was most pronounced at signal-to-noise levels where multisensory gain is known to be maximal in healthy control subjects. A surprising finding was that despite known early auditory sensory processing deficits and reports of impairments in speech processing in schizophrenia, patients' performance in unisensory auditory speech perception remained fully intact. Conclusions: Thus, the results showed a specific deficit in multisensory speech processing in the absence of any measurable deficit in unisensory speech processing and suggest that sensory integration dysfunction may be an important and, to date, rather overlooked aspect of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Audiovisual
  • Crossmodal
  • Multisensory
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensory integration
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this