Research Article| Volume 32, ISSUE 4, P312-333, August 15, 1992

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The contribution of constructional accuracy and organizational strategy to nonverbal recall in Schizophrenia and chronic alcoholism

  • Edith V. Sullivan
    Address reprint requests to Dr. Edith Sullivan Psychiatry Service, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94301, USA
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Standford, California USA

    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA
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  • Daniel H. Mathalon
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Standford, California USA

    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA
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  • Chung Nim Ha
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Standford, California USA

    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA
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  • Robert B. Zipursky
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Standford, California USA

    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA
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  • Adolf Pfefferbaum
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Standford, California USA

    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA
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  • Author Footnotes
    † The authors would like to thank Jody Rawles, Linda Davis, Stacie DeMent, Maria Stein, Theresa Chan, and Dorothy Talbert for careful assistance, Dr. James A. Moses for prividing some vocabulary scores, and the staff of the Alcohol Rehabilitation Ward and the Mental Health Clinical Research Center for patient care.
    ∗∗ Current address: Dr. Robert B. Zipursky, Schizophrenia Research Program, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Room 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8, Canada.
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      The Rey-Osterrieth complex figure was used to assess the separate influences of the constructional accuracy and the organizational strategy employed while copying the figure on the later, incidental recall of the figure. We tested a model, which hypothesized that subjects who copied the main framework of the figure holistically would be more likely to achieve good copy accuracy scores and to reproduce the figure more accurately at recall than subjects who used a piecemeal approach during copy. Subjects included 68 detoxified, chronic alcoholics (ALC), 28 patients with schizophrenia (SZ), and 69 normal control subjects (NCS). The results showed that the ALC and the SZ groups, on average, had lower accuracy and strategy scores at copy than did the NCS group, and furthermore, that the combined contributions of copy accuracy and copy strategy accounted for group differences at recall. A path analysis revealed that, for all three groups, copy strategy had a significant direct effect on copy accuracy. Moreover, copy accuracy and copy strategy made independent contributions to recall accuracy within the ALC and NCS groups; by contrast, within the SZ group, copy strategy made an independent contribution to recall performance but copy accuracy did not. These results suggest that (1) organizational strategy can influence constructional accuracy at both copy and recall; (2) copy accuracy and strategy have the potential to influence recall independently; and (3) the recall deficit in ALC could be attributed to abnormalities in both accuracy and strategy at copy, whereas in SZ it could be attributed only to strategy abnormalities. The deficits observed on the complex figure test in the ALC and SZ were primarily nonmnemonic and were related to ability in figure construction and organizational strategy.
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