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A breakdown of event schemas in patients with schizophrenia: an examination of their script for dining at restaurants

Psychiatry Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0165-1781(99)00051-7
  • Memory
  • Cognition
  • Free Recall
  • Sorting Task
  • Education


Abstract Event schemas, the conceptualization of past experience, in schizophrenic patients were examined based upon script theory. Forty schizophrenic patients and 40 age- and education-matched normal control subjects participated in this study. This experiment consisted of three tasks. In the recall task, subjects recalled a typical scenario of going to a formal restaurant. In the frequency judgment task, subjects determined whether the given events happen frequently, occasionally or rarely in a restaurant. In the sequencing task, the subjects put the randomly presented events in the correct order. The responses of the schizophrenic patients in the recall task, when compared with those of the normal control subjects, had significantly fewer concepts and a greater proportion of highest-frequency concepts. In addition, the sequence of their responses was less accurate than that of normal individuals. This abnormality is unlikely due primarily to a retrieval deficit (i.e. generating fewer concepts in the recall task) given that their performances on the frequency judgment and sequencing tasks, tasks that require less retrieval effort, were consistent with those of the recall task. These results suggest that event schemas in schizophrenic patients contain little detailed information and are incoherent in organization.

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