Impaired Implicit Learning in Schizophrenia

William P. Horan, Michael F. Green, Barbara J. Knowlton, Jonathan K. Wynn, Jim Mintz, Keith H. Nuechterlein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia patients consistently show deficits on tasks of explicit learning and memory. In contrast, their performance on implicit processing tasks often appears to be relatively intact, although most studies have focused on implicit learning of motor skills. This study evaluated implicit learning in 59 medicated schizophrenia outpatients and 43 controls using 2 different cognitive skill tasks. Participants completed a probabilistic classification task to assess procedural habit learning and an artificial grammar task to assess incidental learning of complex rule-based knowledge, as well as an explicit verbal learning and memory task. In addition to performing worse than controls on the explicit learning task, patients showed worse overall performance on the probabilistic classification task, which involves gradual learning through trial-by-trial performance feedback. However, patients and controls showed similar levels of learning on the artificial grammar task, suggesting a preserved ability to acquire complex rule-based knowledge in the absence of performance feedback. Discussion focuses on possible explanations for schizophrenia patients' poor probabilistic classification task performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-617
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR03MH077141


    • habit learning
    • implicit learning
    • neurocognition
    • schizophrenia


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