Neurological soft signs in schizophrenia: Assessment and correlates

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Abstract

A German version of the Neurological Evaluation Scale (NES) was administered to 143 schizophrenic patients, 45 of them being severly chronic and disabled. Seventy-eight alcohol-dependent inpatients and 57 healthy volunteers were tested as control groups. Neurological soft signs (NSS) were rated with convincing agreement. Schizophrenic patients are more impaired on all scales than healthy controls. The chronic, severly disabled schizophrenic patients are more impaired compared with the main group of schizophrenic patients and both control groups. A significant patients and alcohol-dependent patients was only found for the subscale “Motor Coordination”. Compared with healthy controls the alcohol-dependent patients show a higher NES total score. The NES total score was related to the relative width of the third ventricle. Total score and subscales were correlated consistently with the level of cognitive functioning as measured by the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices and various neuropsychological tests presumably sensitive to dysfunctions of the prefrontal cortex. The NSS were related to positive as well as to negative symptoms, the correlations with negative symptoms being confined to items of “Cognitive Disorganization”. This close association of psychomotor and cognitive dysfunctions may be seen as related to the frequently discussed dysfunctions of the prefrontal cortex or the neurointegrative deficit postulated by Meehl.