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The number of separable cognitive dimensions in schizophrenia has been debated. Guided by the extant factor analytic literature, the NIMH Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) initiative selected seven cognitive domains relevant to treatment studies in schizophrenia: speed of processing, attention/vigilance, working memory, verbal learning, visual learning, reasoning and problem solving, and social cognition. These domains are assessed in the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). The aim of this study was to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the beta battery of the MCCB to compare the fit of the MATRICS consensus seven-domain model to other models in the current literature on cognition in schizophrenia.
Using data from 281 schizophrenia outpatients, we compared the seven correlated factors model with alternative models. Specifically, we compared the 7-factor model to (a) a single-factor model, (b) a three correlated factors model including speed of processing, working memory, and general cognition, and (c) a hierarchical model in which seven first-order factors loaded onto a second-order general cognitive factor.
Multiple fit indices indicated the seven correlated factors model was the best fit for the data and provided significant improvement in model fit beyond the comparison models.
These results support the assessment of these seven cognitive dimensions in clinical trials of interventions to improve cognition in schizophrenia. Because these cognitive factors are separable to some degree, it is plausible that specific interventions may have differential effects on the domains.
Numerous studies have reported links between theory of mind (ToM) deficits, neurocognition and negative symptoms with functional outcome in chronic schizophrenia patients. Although the ToM deficit has been observed in first-episode patients, fewer studies have addressed ToM as a possible trait marker, neurocognitive and symptom correlations longitudinally, and associations with later functioning.
Recent-onset schizophrenia patients (n = 77) were assessed at baseline after reaching medication stabilization, and again at 6 months (n = 48). Healthy controls (n = 21) were screened, and demographically comparable with the patients. ToM was assessed with a Social Animations Task (SAT), in which the participants’ descriptions of scenes depicting abstract visual stimuli ‘interacting’ in three conditions (ToM, goal directed and random) were rated for degree of intentionality attributed to the figures and for appropriateness. Neurocognition, symptoms and role functioning were also assessed.
On the SAT, patients had lower scores than controls for both intentionality (p < 0.01) and appropriateness (p < 0.01) during the ToM condition, at baseline and 6 months. The ToM deficit was stable and present even in remitted patients. Analyses at baseline and 6 months indicated that for patients, ToM intentionality and appropriateness were significantly correlated with neurocognition, negative symptoms and role functioning. The relationship between ToM and role functioning was mediated by negative symptoms.
The ToM deficit was found in recent-onset schizophrenia patients and appears to be moderately trait-like. ToM is also moderately correlated with neurocognition, negative and positive symptoms, and role functioning. ToM appears to influence negative symptoms which in turn makes an impact on role functioning.
Interpersonal communication problems are common among persons with schizophrenia and may be linked, in part, to deficits in theory of mind (ToM), the ability to accurately perceive the attitudes, beliefs and intentions of others. Particular difficulties might be expected in the processing of counterfactual information such as sarcasm or lies.
The present study included 50 schizophrenia or schizo-affective out-patients and 44 demographically comparable healthy adults who were administered Part III of The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT; a measure assessing comprehension of sarcasm versus lies) as well as measures of positive and negative symptoms and community functioning.
TASIT data were analyzed using a 2 (group: patients versus healthy adults)×2 (condition: sarcasm versus lie) repeated-measures ANOVA. The results show significant effects for group, condition, and the group×condition interaction. Compared to controls, patients performed significantly worse on sarcasm but not lie scenes. Within-group contrasts showed that patients performed significantly worse on sarcasm versus lie scenes; controls performed comparably on both. In patients, performance on TASIT showed a significant correlation with positive, but not negative, symptoms. The group and interaction effects remained significant when rerun with a subset of patients with low-level positive symptoms. The findings for a relationship between TASIT performance and community functioning were essentially negative.
The findings replicate a prior demonstration of difficulty in the comprehension of sarcasm using a different test, but are not consistent with previous studies showing global ToM deficits in schizophrenia.
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