A randomized controlled trial, published in Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, examined the effects of a unitization intervention on relational memory performance with a new ecological measure, the Relational Trip Task (RTT). The study’s authors, Ana Elisa Sousa and colleagues, found RTT had strong alternate-form reliability and acceptable criterion validity, and that unitization intervention appeared successful in improving relational memory performance.

The trial enrolled 45 patients with schizophrenia. Researchers administered the transverse-patterning task (TP) and RTT at baseline for comparison. Participants with impaired relational memory (n = 22), as measured by the TP, were randomly divided into either the intervention group or an active control group. Researchers then administered unitization training to the intervention group and reassessed task validity and reliability with TP and RTT. Pre- and post-unitization training RTT scores were compared between the control and intervention groups.

All TP-impaired patients performed worse in RTT at initial testing. After unitization training was provided, researchers saw improvements in RTT performance in the intervention group while no improvement was observed in the control group. According to the results, researchers stated that RTT and TP were “moderately correlated.”

The study confirmed that unitization intervention appears to be effective in circumventing impaired relational memory in patients with schizophrenia. Researchers also concluded that RTT is a functional method of measuring relational memory capacity in this patient population.

Source: Cognitive Neuropsychiatry