The time course and characteristics of procedural learning in schizophrenia patients and healthy individuals

Yael Adini, Yoram S. Bonneh, Seva Komm, Lisa Deutsch, David Israeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Patients with schizophrenia have deficits in some types of procedural learning. Several mechanisms contribute to this learning in healthy individuals, including statistical and sequence-learning. To find preserved and impaired learning mechanisms in schizophrenia, we studied the time course and characteristics of implicitly introduced sequence-learning (SRT task) in 15 schizophrenia patients (seven mild and eight severe) and nine healthy controls, in short sessions over multiple days (5–22). The data show speed gains of similar magnitude for all groups, but the groups differed in overall speed and in the characteristics of the learning. By analyzing the data according to its spatial-position and temporal-order components, we provide evidence for two types of learning that could differentiate the groups: while the learning of the slower, severe group was dominated by statistical learning, the control group moved from a fast learning phase of statistical-related performance to subsequence learning (chunking). Our findings oppose the naïve assumption that a similar gain of speed reflects a similar learning process, they indicate that the slower performance reflects the activation of a different motor plan than does the faster performance, and demonstrate that statistical learning and subsequence learning are two successive stages in implicit sequence learning, with chunks inferred from prior statistical computations. Our results indicate that statistical learning is intact in patients with schizophrenia, but is slower to develop in the severe patients. We suggest that this slow learning rate and the associated slow performance contribute to their deficit in developing sequence-specific learning by setting a temporal constraint on developing higher order associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number475
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberseptember
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Frontiers Media S. A. All rights reserved


  • Chunking
  • Motor learning
  • Procedural learning
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sequence learning
  • Serial reaction-time task
  • Skill learning
  • Statistical learning


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