The Neural Correlates of Implicit Sequence Learning in Schizophrenia

Cherie L. Marvel, Beth M. Turner, Daniel S. O'Leary, Hans J. Johnson, Ronald K. Pierson, Laura L. Boles Ponto, Nancy C. Andreasen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Twenty-seven schizophrenia spectrum patients and 25 healthy controls performed a probabilistic version of the serial reaction time task (SRT) that included sequence trials embedded within random trials. Patients showed diminished, yet measurable, sequence learning. Postexperimental analyses revealed that a group of patients performed above chance when generating short spans of the sequence. This high-generation group showed SRT learning that was similar in magnitude to that of controls. Their learning was evident from the very 1st block; however, unlike controls, learning did not develop further with continued testing. A subset of 12 patients and 11 controls performed the SRT in conjunction with positron emission tomography. High-generation performance, which corresponded to SRT learning in patients, correlated to activity in the premotor cortex and parahippocampus. These areas have been associated with stimulus-driven visuospatial processing. Taken together, these results suggest that a subset of patients who showed moderate success on the SRT used an explicit stimulus-driven strategy to process the sequential stimuli. This adaptive strategy facilitated sequence learning but may have interfered with conventional implicit learning of the overall stimulus pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-777
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • implicit sequence learning
  • positron emission tomography (PET)
  • schizophrenia
  • serial reaction time task (SRT)
  • visuomotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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