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Little is known about visual hallucinations (VH) in psychosis. We investigated the prevalence and the role of bottom-up and top-down processing in VH. The prevailing view is that VH are probably related to altered top-down processing, rather than to distorted bottom-up processing. Conversely, VH in Parkinson's disease are associated with impaired visual perception and attention, as proposed by the Perception and Attention Deficit (PAD) model. Auditory hallucinations (AH) in psychosis, however, are thought to be related to increased attention.
Our retrospective database study included 1119 patients with non-affective psychosis and 586 controls. The Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences established the VH rate. Scores on visual perception tests [Degraded Facial Affect Recognition (DFAR), Benton Facial Recognition Task] and attention tests [Response Set-shifting Task, Continuous Performance Test-HQ (CPT-HQ)] were compared between 75 VH patients, 706 non-VH patients and 485 non-VH controls.
The lifetime VH rate was 37%. The patient groups performed similarly on cognitive tasks; both groups showed worse perception (DFAR) than controls. Non-VH patients showed worse attention (CPT-HQ) than controls, whereas VH patients did not perform differently.
We did not find significant VH-related impairments in bottom-up processing or direct top-down alterations. However, the results suggest a relatively spared attentional performance in VH patients, whereas face perception and processing speed were equally impaired in both patient groups relative to controls. This would match better with the increased attention hypothesis than with the PAD model. Our finding that VH frequently co-occur with AH may support an increased attention-induced ‘hallucination proneness’.
Research findings on the relationship between cognitive functioning and psychiatric symptoms in schizophrenia have yielded inconsistent results. Although several models were postulated linking cognition and symptoms, the most recent studies point in the direction of cognition and symptoms being relatively independent disease processes.
The hypothesis that cognitive decline and psychiatric symptoms are independent disease processes was tested.
The relationship between cognitive functioning and clinical symptoms was examined in a large sample of 100 schizophrenia patients.
The hypothesis was largely confirmed.
No convincing evidence was found that symptoms and cognition were related.
Schizophrenia is consistently associated with lower IQ compared to the IQ of control groups, or estimated premorbid IQ. It is not likely that the IQ scores deteriorate during the prodromal phase or first psychotic episode; they are already present before the onset of the prodromal phase and have been detected in childhood.
We investigated cognitive functioning and IQ levels in a group of 36 patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.
The IQ scores in our sample were lower than average. The IQ showed a relation with attention, memory, speed of information processing and some aspects of executive functioning. However, when IQ scores were corrected for processing speed, they were no longer below average.
These findings are important in considering the value of intelligence levels in schizophrenia. IQ scores should be judged in combination with cognitive functioning and school career to assess a patients capabilities in society. Cognitive functions and other variables might have a considerable influence on IQ scores. This rises the question of whether the low IQ scores are a primary or secondary deficit. Schizophrenia patients may have normal IQs, but could be less capable of making an IQ-test.
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