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World J Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;12(8):608-19. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2010.544329. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Inflexible information acquisition strategies mediate visuo-spatial reasoning in stabilized schizophrenia patients.

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Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, Institute of Psychology, Berlin, Germany.



Cognitive deficits are of fundamental importance to the clinical picture of schizophrenia and are on the verge to be included as diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V. While focusing on information processing deficits, no emphasis has been put on whether patients' deficits can be accounted for by maladaptive information acquisition strategy deployment.


We tested 24 stabilized patients with schizophrenia and 25 matched controls in a visuo-spatial analogy task with graded difficulty. Eye movement recordings served to identify information acquisition strategies.


Patients compared to healthy controls showed slower reaction times in the easiest condition and higher error rates in the more difficult conditions. Eye movement recordings illustrated that overall mean fixation duration increased with increasing task difficulty in healthy controls only. Further, patients deployed a more efficient strategy ("constructive matching") less often than healthy controls in the easier conditions.


These results suggest that information acquisition strategies mediate visuo-spatial cognitive performance in schizophrenia. Patients adopt a less efficient strategy independently of task difficulty indicated by a characteristic behavioural pattern. Our results point to a powerful tool of improving patients' performance in cognitively demanding tasks by training them in more flexible cognitive (e.g., information acquisition) strategy deployment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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