Working memory deficits have been widely reported in schizophrenia, and may result from inefficient binding processes. These processes, and their neural correlates, remain understudied in schizophrenia. Thus, we designed an FMRI study aimed at investigating the neural correlates of both passive and active binding in working memory in schizophrenia. Nineteen patients with schizophrenia and 23 matched controls were recruited to perform a working memory binding task, in which they were instructed to memorize three letters and three spatial locations. In the passive binding condition, letters and spatial locations were directly presented as bound. Conversely, in the active binding condition, words and spatial locations were presented as separated, and participants were instructed to intentionally create associations between them. Patients exhibited a similar performance to the controls for the passive binding condition, but a significantly lower performance for the active binding. FMRI analyses revealed that this active binding deficit was related to aberrant activity in the posterior parietal cortex and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. This study provides initial evidence of a specific deficit for actively binding information in schizophrenia, which is linked to dysfunctions in the neural networks underlying attention, manipulation of information, and encoding strategies. Together, our results suggest that all these dysfunctions may be targets for neuromodulation interventions known to improve cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.
Keywords: FMRI; Memory binding; Schizophrenia; Working memory.
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