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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2011 May;17(3):485-93. doi: 10.1017/S1355617711000208.

Processing speed and working memory span: their differential role in superficial and deep memory processes in schizophrenia.

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  • 11Section of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, United Kingdom.
  • 23Center for Neuroimaging and Cognition, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Previous work has suggested that decrement in both processing speed and working memory span plays a role in the memory impairment observed in patients with schizophrenia. We undertook a study to examine simultaneously the effect of these two factors. A sample of 49 patients with schizophrenia and 43 healthy controls underwent a battery of verbal and visual memory tasks. Superficial and deep encoding memory measures were tallied. We conducted regression analyses on the various memory measures, using processing speed and working memory span as independent variables. In the patient group, processing speed was a significant predictor of superficial and deep memory measures in verbal and visual memory. Working memory span was an additional significant predictor of the deep memory measures only. Regression analyses involving all participants revealed that the effect of diagnosis on all the deep encoding memory measures was reduced to non-significance when processing speed was entered in the regression. Decreased processing speed is involved in verbal and visual memory deficit in patients, whether the task require superficial or deep encoding. Working memory is involved only insofar as the task requires a certain amount of effort.

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