Neuropragmatics and irony processing in schizophrenia - Possible neural correlates of the meta-module of pragmatic meaning construction

Zsuzsanna Schnell, Eszter Varga, T. Tényi, M. Simón, András Hajnal, Róbert Járai, Róbert Herold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigates the pragmatics of irony processing and contextual effects in schizophrenia from a neurolinguistic perspective. Relying on neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques the research reveals the brain networks involved in social cognition and non-compositional processing, identifying an area with an integrative role, fulfilling basic tasks that serve as pillars of pragmatic meaning construction, in line with the hypothesized meta-module of pragmatic comprehension.Schizophrenic patients are known to be diagnosed with a typical Theory of Mind (ToM) mechanisms even during remission, which is believed to be responsible, or at least, to contribute to their deficit in pragmatic competence. Several studies reveal a connection between irony comprehension and ToM capacities in patients, who demonstrate difficulty in irony processing, which has been associated with their deficient mentalization skills. We examined the neural correlates of irony understanding in patients, as an indicator of ToM capacity, and evaluated how surface cues (linguistic help) affect irony comprehension. Patients and control subjects were submitted to event-related functional MRI scanning while performing three tasks: (1) irony, (2) irony with linguistic help and (3) control tasks. Results show that mentalizing skills are central for a fully-fledged pragmatic competence, and that linguistic surface cues enhance understanding of implicit content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-99
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016



  • Contextual effects
  • FMRI
  • Irony processing
  • Neuropragmatics
  • Surface cue
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Linguistics and Language

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