Background: The integration of various domains or levels of analysis (clinical, neurobiological, genetic, etc.) has been a challenge in schizophrenia research. A promising approach is to use the core phenomenological features of the disorder as an organising principle for other levels of analysis. Minimal self-disturbance (fragility in implicit first-person perspective, presence and agency) is emerging as a strong candidate to play this role. This approach was adopted in a previously described theoretical neurophenomenological model that proposed that source monitoring deficits and aberrant salience may be neurocognitive/neurobiological processes that correlate with minimal self-disturbance on the phenomenological level, together playing an aetiological role in the onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The current paper presents full cross-sectional data from the first empirical test of this model. Methods: Fifty ultra-high risk for psychosis patients, 39 first episode psychosis patients and 34 healthy controls were assessed with a variety of clinical measures, including the Examination of Anomalous Self-Experience (EASE), and neurocognitive and neurophysiological (EEG) measures of source monitoring deficits and aberrant salience. Results: Linear regression indicated that source monitoring (composite score across neurocognitive and neurophysiological measures), with study group as an interaction term, explained 39.8% of the variance in EASE scores (R2 = 0.41, F(3,85) = 14.78, p < 0.001), whereas aberrant salience (composite score) explained only 6% of the variance in EASE scores (R2 = 0.06, F(3,85) = 1.44, p = 0.93). Aberrant salience measures were more strongly related to general psychopathology measures, particularly to positive psychotic symptoms, than to EASE scores. Discussion: A neurophenomenological model of minimal self-disturbance in schizophrenia spectrum disorders may need to be expanded from source monitoring deficits to encompass other relevant constructs such as temporal processing, intermodal/multisensory integration, and hierarchical predictive processing. The cross-sectional data reported here will be expanded with longitudinal analysis in subsequent reports. These data and other related recent research show an emerging picture of neuro-features of core phenomenological aspects of schizophrenia spectrum disorders beyond surface-level psychotic symptoms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology