Executive Attention and Episodic Memory in Schizophrenia

Şizofrenide Yürütücü Dikkat ve Anısal Hafıza

Schizophrenia (SZ) is a mental illness, in which significant disorders are observed in emotions, thoughts and behaviors and during which patients live in their own worlds by moving away from interpersonal relations and reality.

In schizophrenia, two separate fields of neuropsychological function, which are executive attention and episodic memory (episodic-autobiographic memory representing the experience-based memories in individuals), are jeopardized. Attention and memory are gathered under the data processing mechanisms of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in a healthy cognition.

PFC ensures a healthy coordination and communication of the signals received from executive attention and episodic memory. These networks, which are needed for a healthy aging and cognitive development, usually become too vulnerable due to SZ.

Researchers report that executive attention and episodic memory in schizophrenia may be deteriorated due to a decrease in the gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. Located in many structures of the brain, gray matter is a region that is in charge of data processing.

In the study, neuropsychological tests were administered to compare schizophrenic patients and healthy individuals with equal age, gender, dominant hand and familial socioeconomic status, and a brain imaging (MRI) method was used in order to observe the prefrontal cortex.

Consequently, the results of the neuropsychological tests in the schizophrenic patients demonstrated that executive attention and episodic memory were in interaction with one another. In the MRI results, however, it was found that the gray matter volume reduced in the left prefrontal cortex of the schizophrenic patients. The results showed that the neuropsychological test performances in the schizophrenic group depended on the volume of the gray matter in the lower left prefrontal cortex.

This study sets forth the significant effect that the neuropsychological disorders in schizophrenia and the volume of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex have over the functioning of executive attention and episodic memory.

Nestor, P. G., Forte, M., Ohtani, T., Levitt, J. J., Newell, D. T., Shenton, M. E., … McCarley, R. W. (2019). Faulty Executive Attention and Memory Interactions in Schizophrenia: Prefrontal Gray Matter Volume and Neuropsychological Impairment. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience