Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Research Article

Proactive inhibition and semantic organization Relationship with verbal memory in patients with schizophrenia

David A. Karekena1, Paul J. Moberga1 and Ruben C. Gura1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104


Compared to other cognitive functions in schizophrenia, evidence suggests that verbal memory is particularly impaired. This study used the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) to examine proactive inhibition (PI) and semantic processing in verbal memory in 29 patients with schizophrenia and 29 healthy controls. Patients showed significantly less PI, but also did not organize (cluster) their recall according to semantic category. Controls and patients demonstrated small retroactive inhibition (RI) effects regardless of semantic content. Although both groups made similar types and numbers of free recall intrusion errors, patients committed more phonemic and nonshared recognition errors. Results suggest that reduced semantic processing prevented build of PI, and contributes to defective memory in schizophrenia. The anatomic-physiologic abnormalities that underlie these findings may be particularly pronounced in prefrontal and temporal-parietal cortical areas. (JINS, 1996, 2, 486–493.)

(Received July 10 1995)

(Revised January 12 1996)

(Accepted January 26 1996)


Reprint requests to: Ruben C. Gur, Neuropsychiatry Section (10 Gates), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.