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Psychiatry Res. 2005 Jun 15;135(2):81-90.

Executive control of working memory in schizophrenia.

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Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory, Edith Cavell Building Medical School, University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia.


There is considerable evidence that working memory impairment is a common feature of schizophrenia. The present study assessed working memory and executive function in 54 participants with schizophrenia, and a group of 54 normal controls matched to the patients on age, gender and estimated premorbid IQ, using traditional and newer measures of executive function and two dual tasks-Telephone Search with Counting and the Memory Span and Tracking Task. Results indicated that participants with schizophrenia were significantly impaired on all standardised measures of executive function with the exception of a composite measure of the Trail Making Test. Results for the dual task measures demonstrated that while the participants with schizophrenia were unimpaired on immediate digit span recall over a 2-min period, they recalled fewer digit strings and performed more poorly on a tracking task (box-crossing task) compared with controls. In addition, participants with schizophrenia performed more poorly on the tracking task when they were required to simultaneously recall digits strings than when they performed this task alone. Contrary to expectation, results of the telephone search task under dual conditions were not significantly different between groups. These results may reflect the insufficient complexity of the tone-counting task as an interference task. Overall, the present study showed that participants with schizophrenia appear to have a restricted impairment of their working memory system that is evident in tasks in which the visuospatial sketchpad slave system requires central executive control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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