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Schizophr Res. 2011 Dec;133(1-3):112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.09.017. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Dysfunction in different phases of working memory in schizophrenia: evidence from ERP recordings.

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  • 1Center for Psychiatric Research, Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, Beijing 100096, China.


The present study combined a time-locked paradigm and high-time-resolution event-related potential (ERP) recordings to examine different phases of working memory, including early visual processing and late memory-related processes of encoding, maintenance, and retrieval, in 67 adults with schizophrenia and 46 healthy controls. Alterations in ERP components were correlated with task performance. Patients performed significantly worse in the working memory task than healthy subjects, although all subjects' accuracy exceeded 80%. During encoding, the N1 and P2 component amplitudes were lower while the P300 amplitude was higher in schizophrenic patients compared to healthy controls. There were no differences between groups with respect to the mean amplitudes of the negative slow waves in the early stage (the first 400 ms) of the maintenance phase. However, in the next 500-ms time window, the patients exhibited a more negative deflection in the middle fronto-central region than the control group. Likewise, a similar pattern was observed in the second 500-ms period in the middle fronto-central region, although the effect was marginally significant. There were no differences between groups in the remaining 1000 ms. During retrieval, the P1, N1 and P2 amplitudes were lower while the P300 amplitude and latency were higher in schizophrenic patients. The present results indicate early visual deficits in the working memory task in adults with schizophrenia. Impairments in the maintenance phase were confined to the late rehearsal stage. The increased P300 amplitude at the fronto-central electrode sites along with the poorer behavioral performance suggests that schizophrenic patients have an inefficient working memory system.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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