It has consistently been shown that schizophrenia patients are impaired in recognition memory for faces. However, studies have not examined the specificity of this deficit relative to other cognitive functions nor the relationship between this deficit and particular schizophrenia symptoms. In addition, no studies have examined recognition memory for faces in unaffected biological relatives of schizophrenia patients who likely share some of the genetic diathesis for this disorder without presenting the potential confounds of mentally ill study samples. The Faces subtests from the Wechsler Memory Scale - Third Edition were used to evaluate recognition memory for faces in 39 schizophrenia patients, 33 of their first-degree relatives and 56 normal controls. Both schizophrenia patients and their relatives were impaired, relative to control participants, in recognition memory for faces after partialing out group differences in spatial attention or verbal memory. Further, recognition memory for faces was associated with positive symptoms in the schizophrenia group and schizotypal personality traits in the relative group. These findings may have important implications for reducing etiological heterogeneity among schizophrenia populations, identifying disorder susceptibility among their relatives and furthering understanding of disorder etiology.
- Genetic vulnerability
- Wechsler Memory Scale