Recent reports of spatial working memory deficits in schizophrenia provide evidence for dorsolateral prefrontal cortical (DLPFC) dysfunction. However, the question of how spatial working memory performance relates to other task impairments in schizophrenia considered reflective of frontal dysfunction, such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and smooth pursuit eye tracking, has been largely unexplored. Spatial working memory, as measured by a computerized visual-manual delayed response task (DRT), was evaluated in 42 schizophrenia patients and 54 normal controls. Subjects also completed a battery of neuropsychological and oculomotor tasks. Schizophrenia patients performed as accurately as controls on a no-delay, sensory-motor control condition, but showed a significant impairment in spatial accuracy with the addition of an 8-s delay and verbal distraction task. For the patients, working memory impairment was associated with fewer categories on the WCST, impaired eye tracking, fewer words learned on the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, but not with measures of general cognitive and clinical functioning. Results suggest the presence of a sub-group of schizophrenia patients with common pathophysiology that accounts for the co-variance of several tasks implicating prefrontal dysfunction.
- Antisaccade task
- Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
- Frontal lobes
- Smooth pursuit eye tracking
- Working memory