Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Self-monitoring enhances Wisconsin Card Sorting Test performance in patients with schizophrenia: Performance is improved by simply asking patients to verbalize their sorting strategy


WILLIAM  PERRY a1c1, ERIC G.  POTTERAT a2 and DAVID L.  BRAFF a1
a1 University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry
a2 US Naval Medical Center, San Diego, California

Abstract

Patients with schizophrenia have Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) deficits, which are commonly interpreted as reflecting frontal cortex-based executive dysfunction. One means of assessing the refractoriness of frontal-executive impairment is to utilize a training or modification strategy to improve WCST performance. In this study, 73 patients with schizophrenia were assigned to 1 of 2 groups. Group 1 received the standard WCST instructions for 64 cards (Condition 1). For the second 64-card deck, the patients were asked to verbalize the reason that they placed the card where they did after each sort (Condition 2). Group 2 received this modified instruction 1st (Condition 1) and then the standard instructions for the second deck (Condition 2). A group of normal comparison participants was also tested using standard instructions alone. Group 2 committed significantly fewer perseverative responses than did Group 1. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between Group 2 (Condition 1) and the normal participants. Group 1's performance improved when patients were exposed to the modified instructions (Condition 2). Additionally, poor premorbid factors and disorganized symptoms were associated with decreased benefit from the modified instructions across both groups. Cumulatively, these data suggest that a simple instruction may enhance executive function and impact WCST performance in patients with schizophrenia. (JINS, 2001, 7, 344–352.)

(Received November 19 1999)
(Revised April 17 2000)
(Accepted April 21 2000)


Key Words: Schizophrenia; WCST; Frontal-executive functioning; Remediation.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: William Perry, Ph.D., UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-8620. E-mail: wperry@ucsd.edu