Whereas verbal learning has received considerable attention by cognitive neuropsychology, spatial object learning has been more resistant to study. The paucity of visual learning data has hampered attempts to clarify if visual learning has unique features with specialized neural substrates. In schizophrenia, severe verbal learning impairment has been established, but lack of comparable visual learning measures has thwarted the dissociation of verbal and visual abilities. The Visual Object Learning Test (VOLT) was developed to examine aspects of visual-spatial learning and memory in a manner analogous to available verbal tests. Studies were performed to establish normative performance characteristics, convergent and divergent validity, and the sensitivity of the VOLT to detection of individual differences in normal (through sex and age) and pathologic variability (through persons with schizophrenia). The results indicated excellent internal consistency, convergent and divergent validity, and sensitivity to the effects of aging and pathology. Persons with schizophrenia were impaired in both learning and retention. The authors conclude that memory impairment in schizophrenia may not be specific to verbal learning.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology