Recent evidence suggests that although schizophrenia patients can process aspects of visual form to which the visual system is "hard-wired" to respond, they are deficient in consolidating novel, unstructured visual information into memory traces, thus limiting the assessment of meaning and the generation of top-down influences to guide further processing. This hypothesis was tested with 18 chronic schizophrenia patients and 18 controls using a familiarity judgement task. As predicted, schizophrenia patients' ability to recognise a highly structured visual pattern increased as a function of experience. In contrast, recognition performance for an unstructured pattern did not improve even after 120 exposures. These data suggest that schizophrenia is characterised by a reduced ability to initiate experience-based changes in the visual system, wherein a group of noncontiguous elements that recur together and that are behaviourally relevant begins to be processed as a single unit. These data, and significant correlations between abnormal task performance and disorganised symptoms are consistent with recent neurophysiological models of schizophrenia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cognitive Neuroscience