Verbal episodic memory deficits, a well-established feature of the schizophrenia spectrum, have also been found in individuals with schizotypal personality disorder (SPD), although visual-spatial episodic memory has proven harder to examine. To address this, we administered the Visual Object Learning Test (VOLT), a measure of visual-spatial learning and memory, as well as the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) and a verbal working memory test, to 50 individuals with SPD, 19 with other personality disorders (OPD), and 17 healthy volunteers. Compared to both other groups, individuals with SPD learned verbal and visual-spatial information at a reduced rate and recalled fewer words and objects after a long delay. Verbal working memory performance eliminated diagnostic differences in these episodic memory domains. These findings suggest that it is possible to detect both auditory and visual processing episodic memory abnormalities in the spectrum and that these deficits are uniformly a function of verbal working memory impairments.

Author notes

This research was supported by NIMH Grant Number MH 56140 to Dr. Siever, NIMH Grant Number MH 63116 to Dr. Harvey, and by the VA VISN 3 MIRECC.