Memory generalization is selectively altered in the psychosis dimension

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10 Scopus citations


Global deficits in declarative memory are commonly reported in individuals with schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder, and in their biological relatives. However, it remains unclear whether there are specific components within the global declarative memory dysfunction that are unique to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, or whether these impairments overlap the two psychoses. This study sought to characterize differential components of learning and memory in individuals within the psychosis dimension: probands with schizophrenia (SZP, n = 33), probands with psychotic bipolar I disorder (BDP, n = 20), and biological relatives of SZP (SZR, n = 21), contrasted with healthy controls (HC, n = 26). A computerized cognitive paradigm, the Acquired Equivalence test, with probes for associative learning, memory for learned associations, and memory generalization was administered, along with standardized neuropsychological measures of declarative memory. All study groups were able to learn and remember the associations, although SZP were slower than HC in the initial learning stages. Both SZP (significantly) and BDP (at a trend level) showed altered memory generalization compared to HC (SZP vs. HC, p= .038, d= .8; BDP vs. HC, p= .069, d= .95). SZR showed memory generalization intermediate between SZP and HC, although their performance did not differ significantly from either group. These findings indicate that probands with schizophrenia and bipolar psychoses have similar alteration in the ability to flexibly generalize learned knowledge when probed with novel stimuli, despite overall sufficient associative learning and memory for what they learned. These results suggest that the two disorders present a clinical continuum with overlapping hippocampus-mediated memory generalization dysfunction underlying the psychosis phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Generalization memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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