Background. Previous studies have demonstrated impaired explicit and preserved implicit memory
functions in schizophrenia. However, it is less clear whether schizophrenics can learn complex
information (e.g. probabilistic stimulus–response associations) with or without access for conscious
recollection. In this study we applied a classification learning task to assess explicit and implicit
Methods. Two test procedures were administered to 40 schizophrenic subjects and 20 healthy
volunteers: a probabilistic classification learning (PCL) task to evaluate implicit memory functions;
and a category cue recognition test to investigate the explicit memory system. The PCL task included
feedback guided category learning of geometrical shapes. These shapes were called category cues,
predicting class membership with certain probabilities. The gradual increase of categorization
performance during the feedback learning was a potentially implicit process, whereas the
subsequent recognition of category cues required explicit memory functions.
Results. The schizophrenic patients improved their categorization performance to a similar extent
to the controls, but they failed to recognize the category cues. Memory performances were
independent of the positive and negative symptoms.
Conclusions. Patients with schizophrenia were able to establish representations of complex
categories, but these remained unconscious. This is consistent with earlier reports, suggesting
damaged explicit and spared implicit memory in schizophrenia.