Memory

There are several types of memory disturbance in schizophrenia. The distinction between explicit memory (conscious recollection of prior events) and implicit memory (occurring outside of conscious awareness, as in improved performance resulting from a series of learning trials) has been useful (Squire 1992). Schizophrenic patients tend to show greater deficits in explicit memory in tasks such as recognition and recall of word lists, and to show relative intactness in implicit memory in ones such as motor skill tasks in which practice improves performance.

Working memory, which is similar in concept to short-term memory, refers to the ability to maintain memory representations temporarily, as in remembering a phone number. Verbal working memory (e.g., identifying and distinguishing recent auditory stimuli from other presented stimuli) and spatial working memory (e.g., remembering where in the lot a car is parked) have been distinguished, with the neuroanatomy of the latter mapped in primates. These studies indicate that neurons in prefrontal cortex appear to maintain a representation of the stimulus when the stimulus is no longer in the visual field. Schizophrenic subjects show deficits in spatial working memory compared with control subjects (Park and Holzman 1992).

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