Visual-spatial processing and working-memory load as a function of negative and positive psychotic-like experiences

A. Abu-Akel, R. L.E.P. Reniers, S. J. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Patients with schizophrenia show impairments in working-memory and visual-spatial processing, but little is known about the dynamic interplay between the two. To provide insight into this important question, we examined the effect of positive and negative symptom expressions in healthy adults on perceptual processing while concurrently performing a working-memory task that requires the allocations of various degrees of cognitive resources. Methods: The effect of positive and negative symptom expressions in healthy adults (N = 91) on perceptual processing was examined in a dual-task paradigm of visual-spatial working memory (VSWM) under three conditions of cognitive load: a baseline condition (with no concurrent working-memory demand), a low VSWM load condition, and a high VSWM load condition. Results: Participants overall performed more efficiently (i.e., faster) with increasing cognitive load. This facilitation in performance was unrelated to symptom expressions. However, participants with high-negative, low-positive symptom expressions were less accurate in the low VSWM condition compared to the baseline and the high VSWM load conditions. Conclusions: Attenuated, subclinical expressions of psychosis affect cognitive performance that is impaired in schizophrenia. The “resource limitations hypothesis” may explain the performance of the participants with high-negative symptom expressions. The dual-task of visual-spatial processing and working memory may be beneficial to assessing the cognitive phenotype of individuals with high risk for schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Processing load
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • visual-spatial processing
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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