Prospective memory (PM) is an important memory for future, refers to the ability to remember to carry out future intentions when prompted by a cue, such as posting a mail when passing the post office. Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have shown PM deficits. Previous studies have suggested that emotional PM cues may enhance PM performance, but few studies have examined whether these clinical populations can also acquire this enhancement effect.
Dr. Raymond Chan's team from the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators from the Castle Peak Hospital and the University of Hong Kong have conducted a study to examine such an issue.
They recruited 28 patients with schizophrenia, 26 euthymic patients bipolar disorder and 29 healthy controls. Participants completed the PM task with negative, positive or neutral PM word cues. The task required them to remember completing the PM tasks when seeing the PM cues during a working memory task.
All the three groups showed better PM performance when negative PM cues were presented compared with positive and neutral PM cues. The sizes of the enhancement effects of negative PM cues were large and comparable across three groups.
Compared to their earlier reports, patients with schizophrenia appeared to be able to benefit from negative PM cues to an extent similar to healthy individuals. They also provide a novel evidence to support that euthymic patients with bipolar disorder could benefit from negative PM cues to an extent similar to healthy individuals.
Taken together, their work extended the notion of psychosis continuum to the important area of emotion-cognition interaction. However, given that findings between their earlier reports and this finding in patients with schizophrenia are divergent, more research on the emotion-cognition interaction in schizophrenia is warranted in future study.
Nevertheless, these findings may highlight the importance of the development of potential cognitive training intervention for PM impairments in these clinical groups.
The paper is now published online in European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience on 16 February 2021entitled "The benefits of emotionally salient cues on event-based prospective memory in bipolar patients and schizophrenia patients".
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