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Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2012;17(1):64-89. doi: 10.1080/13546805.2011.568289. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Theory of Mind as a potential trait marker of schizophrenia: a family study.

Author information

1
Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK. alexandra.pentaraki@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Although there is some evidence that Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits may be trait markers of schizophrenia it is not clear yet if ToM deficits are primary deficits, that is, to be independent of deficits in general intellectual abilities and executive function. The aim was to examine if ToM deficits may be trait markers of the illness and the effect of cognitive inhibition, general intellectual abilities and depression on ToM abilities of patients with schizophrenia and their unaffected parents.

METHODS:

We assessed ToM abilities (first-order and second-order ToM stories, The Revised Eyes Test), cognitive inhibition (Stroop Task), general intellectual ability (Standard Progressive Matrices Test Plus) in patients with schizophrenia (N=21) and their unaffected fathers (N=21) and mothers (N=21) in comparison with healthy control families (healthy control males, N=21, healthy control fathers, N=21, healthy control mothers, N=21)

RESULTS:

Patients showed deficits in first-order ToM tasks but some of these deficits were mediated by general intellectual abilities. Impairments in cognitive inhibition mediated only patients' performance in The Revised Eyes Test. Patients showed deficits in second-order ToM stories independently of deficits in general intellectual abilities and cognitive inhibition. Unaffected parents did not show deficits in first-order ToM tasks, whereas they showed deficits in second-order ToM stories. However, the deficits that unaffected parents showed in second-order ToM stories were mediated by their deficits in general intellectual abilities, and there was an effect of remitted depression on the unaffected mothers' performance.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest that intact neurocognitive and general intellectual abilities are necessary in order patients and their unaffected parents to pass successfully ToM tasks. Patients and their unaffected parents show ToM deficits but these deficits are not similar. Patients show ToM deficits but these deficits seem to be a component of the pathophysiology of the illness (e.g., deficits in executive function, general intellectual abilities).

PMID:
22216944
DOI:
10.1080/13546805.2011.568289
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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