Wisconsin card sorting test performance in schizophrenia: Remediation of a stubborn deficit

Michael Foster Green, Paul Satz, Steven Ganzell, Jody F. Vaclav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Objective: Schizophrenic patients typically perform poorly on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, which is a putative index of prefrontal functioning. The authors attempted to remediate the deficits of schizophrenic patients on this measure by giving detailed instructions and monetary reinforcement. Method: Forty-six inpatients with chronic schizophrenia and 20 control subjects with other psychiatric illnesses were given the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test under four conditions that varied in monetary reinforcement and level of instructions. The schizophrenic patients were given the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and three information processing measures (the Continuous Performance Test, Span of Apprehension, and Pin Test). Results: Schizophrenic patients performed worse than psychiatric control subjects across most conditions. Monetary reinforcement had little effect on performance, but detailed instructions significantly improved the scores for both groups. When instructions were withdrawn and monetary reinforcement was maintained, both groups continued to show improved performance over baseline. Symptoms were not significantly associated with Wisconsin Card Sorting Test performance. One measure (the Pin Test) correlated significantly with performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Conclusions: The results suggest the importance of combining motivational with instructional factors for training psychiatric patients in problem solving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-67
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


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