Visual perception and working memory in schizotypal personality disorder

Farmer CM, O’Donnell BF, Niznikiewicz MA, Voglmaier MM, McCarley RW, Shenton ME

Am J Psychiatry 2000 May;157(5):781-8

PMID: 10784472


OBJECTIVE: Patients affected by schizophrenia show deficits in both visual perception and working memory. The authors tested early-stage vision and working memory in subjects with schizotypal personality disorder, which has been biologically associated with schizophrenia.

METHOD: Eleven subjects who met DSM-III-R criteria for schizotypal personality disorder and 12 normal comparison subjects were evaluated. Performance thresholds were obtained for tests of visual discrimination and working memory. Both form and trajectory processing were evaluated for each task.

RESULTS: Subjects with schizotypal personality disorder showed intact discrimination of form and trajectory but were impaired on working memory tasks.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that subjects with schizotypal personality disorder, unlike patients affected by schizophrenia, have relatively intact visual perception. Subjects with schizotypal personality disorder do show specific deficits on tasks of comparable difficulty when working memory demands are imposed. Schizotypal personality disorder may be associated with a more specific visual processing deficit than schizophrenia, possibly reflecting disruption of frontal lobe systems subserving visual working memory operations.