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Schizophr Res. 2011 May;128(1-3):156-60. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.02.008. Epub 2011 Mar 6.

The organization of autobiographical memory in patients with schizophrenia.

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1
Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, Clinique Psychiatrique, Hôpital Civil, 1 Place de l'Hôpital, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Patients with schizophrenia exhibit a wide range of cognitive deficits, including autobiographical memory impairment. It has been suggested that there is a link between this impairment and a disorganization of autobiographical knowledge. This study aimed to explore both the elementary and conceptual organization of autobiographical memory in schizophrenia.

METHODS:

We used an event-cueing procedure to obtain and compare ten chains of six inter-related autobiographical memories of eighteen patients with schizophrenia and seventeen control participants. Elementary organization, which relies on memories' basic characteristics, including sensory-perceptive, cognitive, affective and temporal ones, was assessed by calculating the degree of similarity of the memories' characteristics within chains. Cluster-type connectivity, a form of conceptual organization reflecting the ability to organize autobiographical information about sets of causally and thematically related events, was assessed by asking the participants to describe the type of relationship between cued and cueing autobiographical memories.

RESULTS:

Whereas in controls elementary organization of memories relied on sensory-perceptive and cognitive characteristics of the memories, in patients it was mostly based on the memories' emotional content. Temporal organization and conceptual organization appeared to be preserved in patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

Patients fail to use sensory-perceptive and cognitive characteristics of memories to organize autobiographical knowledge. Possibly to compensate for this, they rely more on the memories' emotional characteristics. Our results point towards an imbalance between emotional and non-emotional factors underlying the organization of autobiographical memory in schizophrenia.

PMID:
21382696
DOI:
10.1016/j.schres.2011.02.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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