Wisconsin Card Sorting Test performance in schizophrenia: the role of working memory.
Schizophrenia typically results in reduced performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). In the current study, we used a variety of approaches to examine the role of working memory (WM) in this deficit. One approach was to examine patterns of perseverative and non-perseverative errors. A second approach involved the comparison of the standard WCST to a modified version that used visual cues to reduce demands on WM. A third approach was to quantify the impact of WM demands on performance on a trial by trial basis. Consistent with theories of WM, the schizophrenia group showed increases in both perseverative and non-perseverative errors and differences between individuals with schizophrenia and controls were largest when WM demands were high. The visual cues helped the schizophrenia group overcome the high WM demands of the test, although they did not reduce the impairment in terms of standard scoring procedures. All impairments disappeared, however, after controlling for group differences on a measure of the speed of encoding information in WM. The pattern of results supports the conclusion that WM impairment contributes to poor performance on the WCST in individuals with schizophrenia, with additional evidence that this impairment results from generalized slowing of information processing.
Hartman, M; Steketee, MC; Silva, S; Lanning, K; Andersson, C
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