Non-linear dynamic analysis of inter-word time intervals in psychotic speech Academic Article uri icon


  • “Language is a form and not a substance” - Ferdinand de Saussure Objective: Analyses of speech processes in schizophrenia are invariably focused on words as vocal signals. The results of such analyses are, however, strongly related to content, and may be language- and culture-dependent. Little attention has been paid to a pure measure of the form of speech, unrelated to its content: inter-words time intervals. Method: 15 patients with schizophrenia and 15 healthy volunteers are recorded spontaneously speaking for 10-15 min. Recordings are analyzed for inter-words time intervals using the following nonlinear dynamical methods: unstable periodic orbits, correlation dimension, bi-spectral analysis, and symbolic dynamics. Results: The series of inter-word time intervals in normal speech have the characteristics of a low-dimensional chaotic attractor with a correlation dimension of 3.2 ± 1.1. Deconstruction of the attractor appears in psychosis with re-establishment after anti-psychotic treatment. Shannon entropy, a measure of the complexity in the time series, calculated from symbolic dynamics, is higher for psychotic speech, which is also characterized by higher levels of phase coupling: higher bicoherence, obtained using bi-spectral analysis. Conclusion: Non-linear dynamical methods applied to ITIs thus enable a content-independent, pure measure of the form of normal thought, its distortion in psychosis, and its restoration under treatment.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013