Neuropsychological impairment in first-episode and chronic schizophrenic patients

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Patients with first-episode (FE) schizophrenia (n=40), with chronic schizophrenia (n=40) and healthy controls (n=40) matched for age, gender, education and parental socioeconomic status were administered a battery of standardized neuropsychological (NP) tests. Both patient groups showed generalized impairment relative to controls and the most pronounced deficits in visual-motor processing and attention (VSM). Compared with FE patients, chronic schizophrenics performed worse in VSM and abstraction/flexibility. Our findings suggest that NP deficits are fundamental manifestations of the illness, and that mainly frontally based dysfunctions are more prominent in chronic, kraepelinian patients.