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Thesis ABSTRACT

The effects of reinforcement on memory task performance of patients with schizophrenia
by Hagedorn, Hildi J., M.A. University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1997

Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia perform poorly on a wide variety of neuropsychological tests. Previous research has suggested that monetary reinforcement can improve patients’ performance on the Wisconsin Card Sort Test (Summerfelt et al., 1991). This study tested the effect of monetary reinforcement on memory test performance. Seventeen subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia participated in this study. The subjects participated in sex tests sessions. In each session, the subjects completed the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test and a Computerized Spatial Matching Test. Each subject received four test sessions without reinforcement, one test session with five cent per correct response reinforcement, and one test session with 25 cent per correct response reinforcement. The subjects were divided into two groups. Group one received five cent reinforcement in the second session and 25 cent reinforcement in the third session. Group two received five cent reinforcement in the fourth session and 25 cent reinforcement in the fifth session. To test for generalization of the effects of reinforcement to other memory tests, the subjects also completed a paragraph recall test during the first and the third test session. To test for generalization to daily memory skills, after each test session, subjects were informed of an appointment with their psychiatrist for one hour after the test session and their attendance was recorded. Results indicated that there was no significant effect of reinforcement on memory test performance. This finding suggests that patients diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer from a primary memory deficit.