Clinical Edge

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Working Memory in People with Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia (PSZ) are impaired at performing tasks while they are successfully maintaining a single item in working memory, a new study found. 37 healthy controls (HC) and 43 PSZ were included. Each trial consisted of a sequence of 2 potential target stimuli, T1 and T2. T1 was a letter presented for 100 ms. After delays of 100-800 ms, T2 was presented. T2 was a 1 or a 2 and required a speeded response. Researchers found:

  • PSZ were dramatically slowed at responding to T2 when T1 was held in working memory.
  • Repeated measures ANOVA yielded main effects of group, delay, and condition with a group by condition interaction.
  • Across delays, the slowing of the T2 response when required to hold T1 in memory, relative to ignoring T1, was nearly 3 times higher in PSZ vs HC.


Gold JM, et al. People with schizophrenia show enhanced cognitive costs of maintaining a single item in working memory. [Published online ahead of print May 15, 2019]. Psychol Med. doi: 10.1017/S0033291719000862.