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November 1987

Further Evidence for Dementia of the Prefrontal Type in Schizophrenia?A Controlled Study of Teaching the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health (Drs Goldberg, Weinberger, and Berman); and the Department of Psychology, St Elizabeths Hospital (Mr Pliskin and Dr Podd), Washington, DC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(11):1008-1014. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800230088014

• Recent physiological and cognitive studies of schizophrenia have implicated dysfunction of prefrontal cortex as a possible explanation for some of the disabling intellectual and social aspects of the disorder. To investigate the potential reversibility of cognitive deficits and the role of state variables, eg, attention and motivation, three groups of patients with schizophrenia were administered the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test on six consecutive occasions. Two of the groups received incremental information on how to do the test, including explicit card-by-card instruction. The third group served as a control. Regardless of the degree of instruction, patients who could not do the test could not learn it. The deficit did not appear generalized, as patients were able to learn word lists on the Selective Reminding memory test and were not globally demented on the Mini—Mental State Examination. These data suggest that prefrontal-type cognitive deficits in schizophrenia may be more profound than is generally appreciated.