Working memory performance in poor outcome schizophrenia: Relationship to age and executive functioning

Susan R. McGurk, Thomas Coleman, Philip D. Harvey, Avraham Reichenberg, Leonard White, Joseph Friedman, Michael Parrella, Kenneth L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Performance on the Letter-Number Sequencing (LNS) and Wisconsin Card Sorting Tests (WCST) have been shown to be significantly correlated in patients with schizophrenia, a relationship postulated to be due to working memory demands of the two tests (Gold, Carpenter, Randolph, Goldberg, & Weinberger, 1997). An alternative explanation for the association between these two tests is their sorting demands, in that both require sorting of information albeit in slightly different ways. If the latter explanation is valid, then working memory tasks that do not require sorting or other conceptualization demands should be less predictive of WCST performance than LNS. These hypotheses were examined in 34 poor outcome patients with schizophrenia, one-half of whom were over the age of 65. Patients were evaluated on Digit Span Forward, spatial working memory, LNS, and the WCST. It was found that WCST performance was significantly associated with performance on the LNS but no other working memory task. Age related performance differences were greatest on the WCST Categories and floor effects were noted on this test in one-half of the subjects. Analyses predicting WCST Categories in subjects whose scores were greater than zero (n = 16) also demonstrated that LNS, but not Digit Span or spatial working memory (any delay) predicted WCST performance. These findings indicate that LNS may be an index of executive functioning, particularly in patients who cannot perform the WCST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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