Memory impairment and schizophrenia: the role of processing speed

Schizophr Res. 1998 Feb 27;30(1):31-9. doi: 10.1016/s0920-9964(97)00123-0.


A link between slowing of processing speed and cognitive disorders, including memory, has repeatedly been found in research on aging, and suggested in other cognitively impaired populations. We tested the hypothesis that a link between memory impairment and slowing of processing speed would also be observed in schizophrenia. Forty-four schizophrenic patients and 40 normal controls were administered a memory task involving free recall and recognition. Processing speed was assessed by the Digit Symbol Substitution Test. Working memory span was assessed as well. The measure of processing speed was consistently correlated with the various memory measures in patients, including efficiency of encoding. These correlations remained significant, or tended to be significant, when working memory span was partialled out. Memory deficits observed in schizophrenia may thus be partly accounted for by a slowing of processing speed. It is suggested that research on cognitive deficits in this and other mental diseases focus more on processing speed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Antipsychotic Agents