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Schizophrenia Research and Treatment
Volume 2014, Article ID 320948, 6 pages
Clinical Study

Not All Distraction Is Bad: Working Memory Vulnerability to Implicit Socioemotional Distraction Correlates with Negative Symptoms and Functional Impairment in Psychosis

1San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, San Diego, CA 92161, USA
2VISN-22 Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA 92161, USA
3Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, USA

Received 31 July 2013; Revised 26 November 2013; Accepted 15 December 2013; Published 27 February 2014

Academic Editor: Steven J. Siegel

Copyright © 2014 Quintino R. Mano et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigated implicit socioemotional modulation of working memory (WM) in the context of symptom severity and functional status in individuals with psychosis ( ). A delayed match-to-sample task was modified wherein task-irrelevant facial distracters were presented early and briefly during the rehearsal of pseudoword memoranda that varied incrementally in load size (1, 2, or 3 syllables). Facial distracters displayed happy, sad, or emotionally neutral expressions. Implicit socioemotional modulation of WM was indexed by subtracting task accuracy on nonfacial geometrical distraction trials from facial distraction trials. Results indicated that the amount of implicit socioemotional modulation of high WM load accuracy was significantly associated with negative symptoms ( , ), role functioning ( , ), social functioning ( , ), and global assessment of functioning ( , ). Specifically, greater attentional distraction of high WM load was associated with less severe symptoms and functional impairment. This study demonstrates the importance of the WM-socioemotional interface in influencing clinical and psychosocial functional status in psychosis.