Verbal Memory Errors and Symptoms in Schizophrenia
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OBJECTIVE: To extend and test hypotheses linking positive and negative symptoms to selective aspects of verbal memory in schizophrenia. BACKGROUND: Verbal memory includes the ability to discriminate and prevent the intrusion of irrelevant information into recall and recognition. This ability has been proposed as a cognitive process that differentially mediates positive and negative symptoms. METHOD: Four error discrimination and 1 general recall memory index from the California Verbal Learning Test as well as general ability (IQ) and sex were used as predictors of symptom ratings in 55 schizophrenia patients within a regression framework. RESULTS: Intrusion errors during free recall contributed significantly to the prediction equation for negative symptoms (Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale). In contrast, positive symptoms and general psychopathology were not predicted by any of the discrimination indices. However, general recall memory (California Verbal Learning Test total words trials 1-5) contributed significantly to the prediction of general psychopathology and marginally to the prediction of negative symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Impaired recall memory predicts levels of nonspecific psychopathology in schizophrenia. Negative symptoms associate with low intrusion error rates, but there is no evidence of an association between elevated errors and positive symptoms.
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