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Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;157(11):1824-8.

Lack of association between duration of untreated illness and severity of cognitive and structural brain deficits at the first episode of schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.



The purpose of the study was to determine whether the duration of illness before antipsychotic drug treatment for schizophrenia was associated with the severity of cognitive deficits and volumetric brain structure anomalies observed in some patients with a first episode of schizophrenia.


Duration of psychotic symptoms and of other symptoms marking a behavioral change was estimated from structured interviews with 50 patients who had a first episode of schizophrenia and their family members. Interviews were conducted within a month of the patients' hospitalization. Duration of untreated psychotic symptoms and of behavioral change was correlated with neuropsychological summary scores from a comprehensive cognitive battery and with measurements of lateral ventricular, temporal lobe, and cerebral hemispheric volumes.


No significant correlations were observed between measures of untreated illness and the severity of either cognitive or structural brain deficits at baseline.


The duration of untreated symptoms of schizophrenia, for which an association with an uncontrolled toxic brain process has been proposed, is unlikely to explain why first-episode patients with schizophrenia have widespread deficits in cognitive functioning and have detectable ventricular enlargement and some loss of cortical mass.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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