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Keywords:

  • ADHD;
  • delayed-response task;
  • early-onset schizophrenia;
  • encoding;
  • spatial working memory

Abstract

Aim

Working memory deficits have been shown to be present in children and adolescents with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Considering the differences in clinical characteristics between these disorders, it was the goal of this study to assess differences in the specific components of working memory in children and adolescents with psychosis and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Methods

Children and adolescents (age range 8–20 years) with either a non-affective psychotic disorder (n = 25), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (n = 33) and controls (n = 58) were administered an oculomotor delayed-response task using both a recall and a control condition. Memory-guided saccades were measured during delay periods of 2, 8 and 20 s.

Results

Although both clinical groups were less accurate than controls, there was no evidence of a disproportionate impairment in recall. In addition, there was no evidence of a delay-dependent impairment in psychosis; however, there was a delay-dependent impairment in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when corrective saccades were included. Speed of information processing was correlated with distance errors in psychosis, suggesting that speed of encoding the stimulus location may have constrained the accuracy of the saccades.

Conclusions

Our findings support impairments during encoding in the psychosis group and a delay-dependent deficit in the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder group.