The neurophenomenology of early psychosis: An integrative empirical study

B. Nelson, S. Lavoie, Gawęda, E. Li, L. A. Sass, D. Koren, P. D. McGorry, B. N. Jack, J. Parnas, A. Polari, K. Allott, J. A. Hartmann, T. J. Whitford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102845
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Neurocognition
  • Neurophysiology
  • Phenomenology
  • Prodrome
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Electroencephalography
  • Prodromal Symptoms
  • Young Adult
  • Awareness/physiology
  • Imagination/physiology
  • Psychotic Disorders/physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Schizophrenia/physiopathology
  • Motor Activity/physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology/physiology
  • Evoked Potentials/physiology
  • Self Concept
  • Models, Biological
  • Adolescent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The neurophenomenology of early psychosis: An integrative empirical study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this