• Disordered, very short-term memory (VSTM) has been hypothesized as the fundamental cognitive deficit in schizophrenia. We describe a method that measures VSTM using selfstimulated auditory average evoked potentials. This paradigm allows the VSTM hypothesis to be tested relatively free of superficial attentional and motivational artifacts. The experimental results are consistent with a VSTM dysfunction in schizophrenia.
Very short-term memory dysfunction is discussed in light of recent blink reflex evidence that there is a short time constant information processing system with a time base similar to VSTM (ie, 1 to 1,000 msec). This leads to new testable hypotheses about information processing and VSTM in schizophrenia. It also lays the basis for interpreting this phenomenon as a pathologic exaggeration of an adaptive neurophysiologic mechanism.