Psychological Medicine

Remediation of memory disorders in schizophrenia

A. MEDALIA a1c1, N. REVHEIM a1 and M. CASEY a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA


Background. Memory deficits are commonly experienced by patients with schizophrenia, often persist even after effective psychotropic treatment of psychotic symptoms and have been demonstrated to interfere with many aspects of successful psychiatric rehabilitation. Because of significant impact on functional outcome, effective remediation of cognitive deficits has been increasingly cited as an essential component of comprehensive treatment. Efforts to remediate memory deficits have met with circumscribed success, leaving uncertain whether schizophrenia patients can be taught, without experimental induction, independently to employ semantic encoding or a range of other mnemonic techniques.

Method. We examined the feasibility of using memory and problem solving teaching techniques developed within educational psychology – techniques which promote intrinsic motivation and task engagement through contextualization and personalization of learning activities – to remediate memory deficits in a group of in-patients with chronic schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Results. Although our memory remediation group significantly improved on the memory remediation task, they did not make greater gains on measures of immediate paragraph recall or list learning than the control groups.

Conclusions. Targeted remediation of memory appears to yield task specific improvement but the gains do not generalize to other memory tasks. Subjects receiving memory remediation failed to independently activate mnemonic encoding strategies learned and used successfully within training tasks to other general measures of verbal learning and memory.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Alice Medalia, Department of Psychiatry, Klau-2, Montefiore Medical Center, 111 East 210 Street, Bronx, NY 10467, USA.