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Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 2007 Dec;51:s107-10. doi: 10.1192/bjp.191.51.s107.

Cognitive dysfunction in first-episode psychosis: the processing speed hypothesis.

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



Speed of processing is a cognitive process underlying cognitive dysfunction in people with chronic schizophrenia.


To investigate the contribution of speed of processing to the cognitive deficits observed in a representative large sample with first-episode schizophrenia.


People with a diagnosis of first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (n=26) and healthy controls (n=28) were compared on several cognitive measures before and after controlling for speed of processing.


Before controlling for speed of processing, patients and controls differed significantly on all cognitive measures. All significant differences in cognitive functioning disappeared when the result of the Digital Symbol Substitution Test was included as an additional covariate.


Speed of information processing may be considered a core cognitive deficit in schizophrenia and might be mediating a broader diversity of cognitive disturbances.

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