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Schizophr Res. 2011 Dec;133(1-3):212-7. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Relationship of neurocognitive deficits to diagnosis and symptoms across affective and non-affective psychoses.

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Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill St, Belmont, MA, 02478 USA.



Neurocognitive dysfunction is believed to be a core feature of schizophrenia and is increasingly recognized as a common symptom dimension in bipolar disorder. Despite a copious literature on neurocognition in these disorders, the relationship amongst neurocognition, symptoms, and diagnosis remains unclear. We examined neurocognitive functioning in a cross-diagnostic sample of patients with psychotic disorders. Based on previous findings, it was hypothesized that neurocognitive functioning would be impaired in all three patient groups, and that groups would be similarly impaired on all neuropsychological measures. Additionally, we predicted that negative symptoms but not positive, general, or mood symptoms, would be associated with neurocognitive functioning.


Neurocognitive functioning and symptoms were assessed in participants with schizophrenia (n=25), schizoaffective disorder (n=29), or bipolar disorder with psychosis (n=31), and in healthy controls (n=20).


Neurocognitive functioning was significantly impaired in all patient groups, and groups did not differ by diagnosis on most measures. A series of linear regressions revealed that negative symptoms (but no other clinical symptom) predicted poorer executive functioning across groups. Diagnosis was not a significant predictor of any neurocognitive variable.


Neurocognitive deficits were pronounced in this cross-diagnostic sample of patients with psychotic disorders, and did not differ by diagnosis. Neurocognitive dysfunction may represent a symptom dimension that spans diagnostic categories, and may reflect shared pathogenic processes. As neurocognitive dysfunction is among the strongest predictors of outcome in patients, efforts to treat these deficits, which have shown promise in schizophrenia, should be extended to all patients with psychosis.

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