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Conscious Cogn. 2012 Mar;21(1):90-9. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2011.09.012. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Distorted perception of the subjective temporal distance of autobiographical events in patients with schizophrenia.

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Unité INSERM 666, Physiopathologie et Psychopathologie Cognitive de la Schizophrénie, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, 1 Place de l'Hôpital, BP 426, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Disturbances of perception of subjective time have been described in schizophrenia but have not been experimentally studied until now. We investigated how patients with schizophrenia estimate the subjective temporal distance (TD) of past personal events, i.e. how these events are perceived as subjectively close or distant in time. Twenty-five patients with schizophrenia and 25 control participants recalled 24 autobiographical memories from four different life periods. They estimated the subjective TD and rated the amount of detail of each memory. Results showed that patients with schizophrenia had a distorted perception of subjective TD. Their memories were significantly less detailed than those of controls and, unlike control participants, the amount of memory detail was not significantly correlated with subjective TD. Poor access to memory detail may account for distortions of perception of subjective time in patients with schizophrenia.

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