Impaired cue identification and intention retrieval underlie prospective memory deficits in patients with first-episode schizophrenia

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatry


OBJECTIVE: Schizophrenia is associated with impairment in prospective memory, the ability to remember to carry out an intended action in the future. It has been established that cue identification (detection of the cue event signaling that an intended action should be performed) and intention retrieval (retrieval of an intention from long-term memory following the recognition of a prospective cue) are two important processes underlying prospective memory. The purpose of this study was to examine prospective memory deficit and underlying cognitive processes in patients with first-episode schizophrenia.

METHODS: This study examined cue identification and intention retrieval components of event-based prospective memory using a dual-task paradigm in 30 patients with first-episode schizophrenia and 30 healthy controls. All participants were also administered a set of tests assessing working memory and retrospective memory.

RESULTS: Both cue identification and intention retrieval were impaired in patients with first-episode schizophrenia compared with healthy controls ( ps < 0.05), with a large effect size for cue identification (Cohen's d = 0.98) and a medium effect size for intention retrieval (Cohen's d = 0.62). After controlling for working memory and retrospective memory, the difference in cue identification between patients and healthy controls remained significant. However, the difference in intention retrieval between the two groups was no longer significant. In addition, there was a significant inverse relationship between cue identification and negative symptoms ( r = -0.446, p = 0.013) in the patient group.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that both cue identification and intention retrieval in event-based prospective memory are impaired in patients with first-episode schizophrenia. Cue identification and intention retrieval could be potentially used as biomarkers for early detection and treatment prognosis of schizophrenia. In addition, addressing cue identification deficit through cognitive enhancement training may potentially improve negative symptoms as well.


Prospective memory, cue identification, first-episode, intention retrieval, schizophrenia

DOI of Published Version



Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2017 Mar;51(3):270-277. doi: 10.1177/0004867416640097. Epub 2016 Jul 11. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry


Full author list omitted for brevity. For the full list of authors, see article.

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