Memory deficits are commonly encountered in patients with schizophrenia, affecting everyday functioning and hindering rehabilitation efforts. To date, research has focused mainly on patients' ability to recall past information, or retrospective memory, but has neglected an important memory process known as prospective memory, or the ability to remember to perform actions in the future. Given its behavioural orientation, prospective memory is considered different from and more complex than the traditional construct of retrospective memory. Clinical experience has indicated that patients with schizophrenia experience some kind of prospective memory impairment but systematic research in this area is still lacking. Prospective memory is relevant to the management and rehabilitation of schizophrenia because prospective memory is essential for maintaining an organised daily routine and coping with social demands. For both theoretical and practical reasons, systematic investigation of the nature and extent of prospective memory impairment of patients with schizophrenia is clearly warranted. Research in this area will provide useful information for improving the assessment, management, and rehabilitation of prospective memory problems in schizophrenia. Furthermore, such research will advance our understanding of prospective memory processes and their relationship with frontal lobe functions.
Key words: Schizophrenia, Cognitive function, Prospective memory, Rehabilitation
In recent years, memory impairment has been recognised as a significant problem for patients with schizophrenia. (1-3) Systematic studies using tests of specific memory processes (short-term, long-term, verbal, and visual memory) have found that patients with acute and chronic schizophrenia performed significantly worse than matched controls. (4-7) These findings are hypothetically explained by the subtle damage to the medial temporal/hippocampal area frequently found in patients with schizophrenia. (8,9)
All studies in this area have concentrated on a type of memory that involves the ability to recall and recognise past information, that is retrospective memory. In recent years, however, the importance of another type of memory, the ability to remember to perform an action in the future or prospective memory, has been acknowledged. (10) This paper aims to review the significance of this new type of memory, discuss how this construct can enhance our understanding of memory problems in schizophrenia, and provide suggestions for practice and research in this area.
SIGNIFICANCE OF PROSPECTIVE MEMORY
Kvavilashvili and Ellis defined prospective memory as …