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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Mar;14(2):279-88. doi: 10.1017/S1355617708080314.

Emotion perception and learning potential: mediators between neurocognition and social problem-solving in schizophrenia?

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Institute of Psychiatry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Social cognition and learning potential have been proposed as mediating variables between neurocognition and functional outcome in schizophrenia. The present study examined this relation in a schizophrenia group (N = 26) with normal IQ. Neurocognition was measured with a composite score from tests of verbal learning, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning. Functional outcome was defined as social problem-solving skills and assessed with a role-play test. Social cognition was indexed by tests of visual and auditory emotion perception; and learning potential by estimating a gain score using a triple administration of the WCST. Neurocognition was confirmed to be a strong predictor of social problem-solving, and emotion perception was related to both neurocognition and social problem-solving. When controlling for emotion perception, the association between neurocognition and social problem-solving was weakened, implying a mediating role of emotion perception. Learning potential was not significantly related to neurocognition or social problem-solving, and thus not found to mediate the studied relation. In conclusion, our study indicates that emotion perception is a mediator between neurocognition and functional outcome as assessed with a social problem-solving task and thus a key factor in understanding functional outcome of schizophrenia.

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