Aim: Although impaired verbal memory and verbal fluency are frequently found in adults with schizophrenia, there has been a paucity of studies investigating adolescents with schizophrenia. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate the main subcomponents of verbal memory and verbal fluency in adolescents with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
Methods: Verbal learning and memory and verbal fluency was assessed in 21 adolescents with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (mean age, 15.4 years) compared with 28 healthy adolescents (mean age, 15.1 years).
Results: The patient group performed significantly below healthy controls on measures of learning, delayed recall and on a frequency estimation task. No differences between the groups were found for measures of recognition, retention, implicit memory, or susceptibility to interference. Although they had impaired delayed recall the patients remembered most of what they actually learned. The patient group was impaired on phonological and semantic fluency, but there were no differences between the groups with respect to clustering or switching on the fluency tasks, when controlling for total output. There was no disproportionate impairment in semantic, as compared to phonological fluency, in the patient group.
Conclusions: Adolescents with schizophrenia spectrum disorders exhibit impairments in verbal learning and verbal fluency, which might have an impact on the individual's everyday functioning.