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Schizophr Res. 1999 May 4;37(1):1-11.

A comparison of the effect of clozapine with typical neuroleptics on cognitive function in neuroleptic-responsive schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37212, USA.


Clozapine has been reported to improve selected aspects of cognitive function in neuroleptic-resistant schizophrenia. In this study, we report the first direct comparison of the effect of clozapine and typical neuroleptic drugs on cognitive function in neuroleptic-responsive schizophrenia. Sixty-four patients with recent onset, neuroleptic-responsive schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were randomly assigned to either clozapine (n = 35) or typical neuroleptics (n = 29) and followed for 12 months. They were administered a comprehensive cognitive test battery at baseline and at 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months after initiating drug treatment. Treatment with clozapine improved psychomotor speed and attention [Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST)] and verbal fluency [Category Instance Generation and Controlled Word Association Test (CWAT)] at 6 weeks. The improvement in these measures was maintained throughout the 12-month period. Treatment with typical neuroleptics produced no sustained improvement in any cognitive measure, except for a tendency to improve delayed recall memory (Verbal List Learning Test). The improvement in the DSST and CWAT was significantly greater with clozapine treatment compared to that with typical neuroleptics. These improvements were not related to improvement in psychopathology. These results suggest that clozapine is superior to typical neuroleptics in improving specific types of cognitive function in recent onset, neuroleptic-responsive schizophrenia.

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