Relational Memory in the Early Stage of Psychosis: A 2-Year Follow-up Study

Suzanne N. Avery, Kristan Armstrong, Maureen McHugo, Simon Vandekar, Jennifer Urbano Blackford, Neil D. Woodward, Stephan Heckers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Relational memory, the ability to bind information into complex memories, is moderately impaired in early psychosis and severely impaired in chronic schizophrenia, suggesting relational memory may worsen throughout the course of illness. Methods: We examined relational memory in 66 early psychosis patients and 64 healthy control subjects, with 59 patients and 52 control subjects assessed longitudinally at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Relational memory was assessed with 2 complementary tasks, to test how individuals learn relationships between items (face-scene binding task) and make inferences about trained relationships (associative inference task). Results: The early psychosis group showed impaired relational memory in both tasks relative to the healthy control group. The ability to learn relationships between items remained impaired in early psychosis patients, while the ability to make inferences about trained relationships improved, although never reaching the level of healthy control performance. Early psychosis patients who did not progress to schizophrenia at follow-up had better relational memory than patients who did. Conclusions: Relational memory impairments, some of which improve and are less severe in patients who do not progress to schizophrenia, are a target for intervention in early psychosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • hippocampus
  • longitudinal
  • memory
  • schizophrenia
  • schizophreniform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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