Prose memory and schizophrenia. A deficit of encoding or of retrieval strategy?

Memoria di prosa e schizofrenia. Un deficit di codifica o di recupero strategico?

M.C. Quattropani, S. Cova

Università di Messina, Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione, Dipartimento di Scienze Pedagogiche e Psicologiche


The aim of the present study was to evaluate if the components, immediate and delayed, of prose memory are differently processed in the population with schizophrenia, as compared to adult controls, in order to expand the knowledge supporting neuropsychological rehabilitation programs.


This study was carried out on 32 subjects with DSM-IV-TR schizophrenia (21 males and 11 females), followed-up at the Outpatient Centre for Mental Hygiene of Locri (RC) and at the Centre for Mental Health of Gioiosa Jonica (RC). Patients were matched with 32 healthy controls for age, sex, and years of education.

Exclusion criteriafor all participants included a history of significant head trauma or neurological disease, substance abuse, alcohol dependence, and major sensory or motor impairment. This research has been conducted through application of a “neuropsychological battery” in order to investigate the cognitive abilities, memory skills and understanding of the subjects.


There is evidence of impaired prose memory performance in patients. In particular, accuracy of memory, immediate and delayed, showed remarkably low performance of mnesic materials. Moreover, they show confabulations or details that are not consistent with the exposition. These intrusions could be attributed to an inability to monitor and suppress inappropriate responses and to poor use of strategies during the stage of recovery. Finally, subjects with schizophrenia showed a benefit from the repetition of exposed material, which allowed them adding a minimum number of intrusions, comparable to that of normal subjects.

The test scores suggest a difficulty in elaborating an effective strategy for storing material. Both the RAVLT and prose memory tests did not show a prevalence of primary and recency effects, meaning inability to remember correctly the text and easy distractibility to irrelevant information.


Our purpose was to use these results to improve techniques used in the rehabilitation of declarative verbal memory deficits in patients.

It is important to emphasize the need for a holistic treatment, which includes neuropsychological rehabilitation, pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches, in spite of the wide variety of different clinical and pathological manifestations.

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