Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Second Committee Member

Jefferson Kinney

Third Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Fourth Committee Member

Merill Landers

Number of Pages



Auditory perception deficits have been identified in schizophrenia and linked to dysfunction in primary auditory cortex. There is also evidence that primary auditory cortex abnormalities are associated with positive symptoms, particularly auditory hallucinations. Given the evidence that individuals with bipolar disorder frequently experience auditory hallucinations, it may be that individuals with bipolar disorder who also exhibit psychotic symptoms demonstrate similar impairment in auditory perception tasks. Additionally, these deficits may contribute to impaired social interactions, as they are likely to interfere with accurate perception of emotion from spoken words. The current study examined this matter by comparing performance of 50 individuals with schizophrenia (SZ), 30 individuals with bipolar disorder with a history of psychotic features (BD+), 28 individuals with bipolar disorder with no history of psychotic features (BD-), and 29 normal controls (NC) on a tone discrimination task likely to activate the auditory cortex. Groups were also compared on a task designed to assess auditory affect recognition, visual affect recognition, and auditory-visual affect recognition. Results indicated that individuals with SZ showed the most impairment on the tone discrimination task. On the difficult condition of the tone discrimination task, individuals with BD+ performed worse compared to individuals with BD- and NCs, who did not differ from each other. Individuals with SZ also performed the worst on all conditions of the affect recognition task, while individuals with BD+ performed worse than those with BD- and NC only on the auditory affect recognition condition. It was also found that performance on the more difficult condition of the tone discrimination task predicted performance on all three conditions of the affect recognition task. Additionally, no differences were found between those in BD+ who had a lifetime history of auditory hallucinations and those who did not. Findings replicate previous research indicating that individuals with SZ are impaired on basic auditory processing tasks and emotion recognition tasks. Findings also indicate that individuals with BD+ perform at a level that is intermediate between BD- and SZ on a basic auditory processing task and an auditory emotion recognition task, suggesting that those with a history of psychosis may have similar underlying mechanisms and neurocognitive abilities as those seen in SZ. Additionally, poor ability to discriminate between tones appears to be related to social cognitive deficits in both disorders. Results did not support the idea that a history of auditory hallucinations is related to poorer performance on either task. Future research should examine the relationship between severity of auditory hallucinations and impairment in basic auditory processing and auditory emotion recognition across the disorders.


Auditory; Auditory hallucinations; Auditory perception; Bipolar Disorder; Emotion; Manic-depressive illness; Schizophrenia; Social cognition


Clinical Psychology | Psychology