Neuropsychological function in schizophrenia. Selective impairment in memory and learning.
Unmedicated schizophrenic patients (according to DSM-III-R criteria) (n = 36) and age-matched normal controls (n = 36), balanced for parental socioeconomic status, were administered a battery of standardized neuropsychological tests. Patients showed generalized impairment relative to controls and a selective deficit in memory and learning compared with other functions. Selective impairment was not found on tests related to frontal system function (abstraction, verbal fluency, and motor). The observed pattern is consistent with greater involvement of the temporal-hippocampal system, against the background of diffuse dysfunction. Although impairment in memory and learning has been reported, the selectivity and relative severity compared with other behavioral functions have not been recognized. The specificity of this profile merits further examination. These findings lend support to the hypothesized importance of the temporal-hippocampal region in understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.