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Etiology of Working Memory

Etiology of Working Memory Deficits in the Schizophrenia-spectrum

Our earlier work helped establish working memory deficit as a core feature of schizophrenia and an endophenotypic marker. We then showed that working memory deficits cascade to all aspects of cognitive and social impairments, and that this deficit arose from abnormal frontoparietal circuitry. These findings played a significant role in establishing cognitive deficits as core features of schizophrenia and contributed to a gradual paradigm shift towards cognitive neuroscience in psychosis research. The next phase of this research program led to establishing the stability of the working memory deficit over time in patients, and in highrisk populations.  In parallel, we sought to elucidate the neural basis of working memory deficits and specify the components of encoding and retention mechanisms that are derailed in schizophrenia. These studies indicated that the input stage of encoding is problematic in schizophrenia, which points towards perceptual abnormalities as a major source of their memory problem. We identified key visual perceptual processes that could account for faulty input to the memory systems, including weakened center-surround mechanisms, abnormal visual context processing and motion perception impairments. Importantly, we found that almost all of these perceptual and cognitive changes are linked to detrimental social consequences,  which underscores the need for a more precise targeting of underlying mechanisms for treatment.


Representative papers:

  • Park, S., Holzman, P.S., & Goldman-Rakic, P.S. (1995). Spatial working memory deficits in the relatives of schizophrenic patients. Archives of General Psychiatry. 52: 821-828. PDF version
  • Lee, J. & Park, S. (2005). Working memory impairments in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis. J Abnormal Psychology 114(4): 599-611. PDF version
  • Mayer, J.S. & Park, S. (2012). Working memory encoding and false memory in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in a spatial delayed response task. J Abnormal Psychology, 121(3): 784-94. PDF version
  • Yang, E., Tadin, D., Glasser, D., Hong, S-W., Blake, R.B., & Park, S. (2013). Visual context processing in schizophrenia. Clinical Psychological Science. 1: 5-15. PDF version
  • Park, S. & Gooding, D.C. (2014). Working memory impairment as an endophenotypic marker of a schizophrenia diathesis. Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 1: 127-136. PDF version