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Loss of the Kamin blocking effect in acute but not chronic schizophrenics.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/1992
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Psychiatry
Issue number9
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)739-755
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Differences between research diagnostic criteria (RDC)-diagnosed acute and chronic schizophrenics and normal controls were studied using a Kamin blocking procedure. Blocking is an established animal learning procedure, thought by some researchers to reflect selective attention; decreased blocking indicates increased processing of irrelevant stimuli. It was predicted that this pattern would be obtained in acute schizophrenics, tested soon after admission, for two reasons: (1) evidence from previous clinical studies indicates that acute schizophrenics are more aware of nonsalient aspects of their environment than controls; and (2) blocking is disrupted in animals in a hyperdopaminergic state and restored by neuroleptic medication. This was the case: acute, but not chronic, schizophrenics showed disrupted blocking. This disruption was especially clear in those acute schizophrenics tested within 2 weeks of hospital admission. By the second test session (in a cross-over design), there was some evidence of normalization in performance in the acute schizophrenics. These findings are considered with regard to the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia.