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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2006 Sep;256(6):364-71. Epub 2006 Jun 20.

Cognitive functioning in the early course of first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorders: timing and patterns.

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  • 1Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Department of Psychiatry, Planta 2a, Edificio 2 de Noviembre, Avda. Valdecilla s/n, 39008, Santander, Spain.



The aim of this study was to examine possible cognitive changes throughout the early course of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.


Forty-two patients, aged 15-50 years, admitted to a first episode psychosis program (PAFIP) serving to the community of Cantabria (Spain) and 43 healthy volunteers completed a brief battery of five neurocognitive tests at four time-points over 3 months. The cognitive testing comprise five domains: attention, visuomotor speed, declarative memory, working memory and executive function. Baseline assessment occurred within 72 hour after the initiation of standard pharmacological treatment, and after then parallel forms of the tests were applied at week-2, week-6, and month-3.


Patient scores showed a significant impairment compared to healthy volunteers in the five cognitive domains at baseline and week-2 assessments. After the first 3 months of antipsychotic treatment, the patient group performance reached healthy volunteers level on executive function (Stroop interference) and immediate verbal memory tests. In contrast, performance on working memory, sustained attention, visuomotor speed, and verbal memory delayed recall domains still remained below healthy volunteers, although visuomotor processing speed showed a significant improvement.


Schizophrenia spectrum patients show heterogeneous patterns and degrees of cognitive changes that contribute to stress the importance of when, what, and how neurocognitive functioning in the early phases of the illness is evaluated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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