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July 1999

Deficits of Information Management Associated With Schizophrenia: Awareness and Associated Integrative Cognitive Functions

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56(7):647-648. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.7.647

SCHIZOPHRENIA, however defined, represents a complex challenge to clinicians and researchers at many levels of integration and organization, including genetic, physiological, cognitive, and social. Even philosophically, it is perhaps an antithesis to science, as disorganization rather than organization of information.

At the cognitive level, deficits of attentional, executive, and working memory functions are strongly associated with schizophrenia and implicated with adaptation of individuals to social demands. The richness of these associations is complicated by sometimes fuzzy definitions and divergence in theory, terms, and methods in research and knowledge about attention, executive function, and memory.1 These are each multidimensional constructs with various component processes. Furthermore, these constructs and processes overlap and are linked. For example, boundaries between attentional functions and executive functions are not clearly demarcated. However, the time dimension can be used as a key organizing distinction. In this model, attentional functions operate on current inputs and responses, whereas executive functions incorporate past and future representations in generating responses. Extending the information-processing model further, executive functions can be thought of as information-management functions, including organizing behavior around goals, binding events across time, inhibiting less relevant data inputs, shifting goals in response to new information, sequencing complex sets of actions, multitasking, and the like.

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